Kasungu national park, communities reduce wildlife crimes in ‘beneficial’ partnership

The relationship between staff of Kasungu National Park and communities along the park is reportedly “very cordial”, resulting in multiple benefits being enjoyed by both sides as they conserve Malawi’s “second largest” national park.

This was revealed in Kasungu during a demonstration on how special dogs of the Wildlife Detection Dog Unit (WDDU) of the Malawi Police Service (MPS) are used in the fight against wildlife crimes in the country.

Senior chief Lukwa (standing) speaking during the demonstration

Both sides alluded to village and zonal natural resource committees, community enforcement networks and a “collaborative management agreement”, saying these are helping forge ahead unity of purpose in conserving Kasungu National Park, leading to reduction of poaching and encroachment cases and human-wildlife conflicts.

They also talked about the Kasungu Wildlife Conservation for Community Development Association (Kawicoda)–an organization involving all nine traditional authorities along the park, staff and some community members–which they said is an umbrella body of all those activities and acts as a bridge between the general public and the management of the park.

Speaking during the demonstration, senior chief Lukwa hailed the park-community relationship and urged his fellow chiefs and subjects to continue fulfilling their obligations in order to continue benefiting.

“For instance, government, through this national park, has constructed for us a honey manufacturing factory. We sell out the honey across Kasungu and the money is helping us in many ways. We also receive MK500,000 every three months from the proceeds of tourism within the park. We use the money to finance our own development initiatives,” Lukwa said.

Part of the audience

Taking his turn, head of environmental education and extension at Kusungu National Park, Matias Elisa, concurred with senior chief Lukwa, saying everyone must indeed continue playing their rightful roles so that the partnership becomes even much better.

“For instance, poaching is reduced, now. This is symbolized with an increase of animal population in the park. This success is attributed to community enforcement networks that provide information when wildlife crimes are about to happen or have happened,” Elisa said.

The WDDU demonstration in Kasungu–jointly organized by Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, Kasungu National Park and MPS–was aimed at assuring chiefs and communities along Kasungu National Park that there are even more advanced initiatives to beef up their fight against wildlife crimes.

WDDU, set up in 2018 as a partnership between MPS and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife with support from Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, has five dogs that sniff out wildlife products being trafficked out of the country through airports and borders. The dogs are also able to find wildlife products hidden in bushes, among other secret places.

The unit is reportedly part of the successes Malawi has achieved in combating wildlife crimes over the years.

Both Lukwa and Elisa commended the initiative, saying the dogs are able to find hidden wildlife products that humans are unable to find.

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