Wildlife Action Group (WAG) has embarked on outreach programmes to communities around forest reserves in Dowa, Dedza, Lilongwe and Salima to raise awareness on stiff penalties stipulated in the recently amended National Parks and Wildlife Act.
The Act stipulates fines of up to K15 million and jail terms to a maximum of 30 years for people convicted of hunting protected species.
The Act further states that the fine shall not be less than the value of the specimen involved in the offence.
Salima Police Station prosecutor Milton Keliyasi said Chadza and Chitekwele areas in Lilongwe have registered an 80 percent increase in cases of wildlife and natural resources crimes.
“This is affecting our operations, as we have to concentrate on forest and wildlife offences and pay less attention to criminal cases in neighbourhoods,” he said during a visit to Chitekwele area.
WAG senior assistant manager Connex Mbewe said they developed a community guide booklet to outline contents of the Act, the offences and their penalties.
“We have so far distributed over 2 500 copies of the community guide to raise awareness on the fines and sentences contained in the amended Act. We want them to know this before they attempt to commit the offences.” Said Mbewe.
During a sensitisation meeting at Thuma Forest Reserve in Dowa, WAG director Lynn Clifford said the organisation distributed 1 500 community guide booklets. The booklets have been produced with support from the Elephant Crisis Fund. n