Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining has urged stakeholders in the country to join efforts with government in fighting against illegal wildlife trade .
The minister responsible, Aggrey Massi made the call on Wednesday during the official launch of Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) 2015 to 2018 Progress Report at Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.
Massi said government has made remarkable progress in cracking down wildlife crime, however, he said there was need for collective efforts in order to completely wipe out such offences.
“For the first time in the country’s history, wildlife criminals are being given stiffer punishments, thanks to the amendment of the National Parks and Wildlife Act (NPWA) in early 2017 which gives courts the option to put convicts found with listed species behind bars for up to 30 years,” said Massi.
“However, there is need for joint efforts in as far as curbing wildlife trade is concerned. As such, I urge all stakeholders tocome forward to support the government in the fight against illegal wildlife trade and protect our country’s natural heritage,”he added.
In his remarks, German Ambassador to Malawi, Jürgen Borsch commended government for being delisted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) as one of the countries of primary concern on illegal wildlife trade crimes.
“The report is a showcase of what Malawi has achieved in just four years and the results are promising. The negative trend of illegal wildlife trade is now on the lower side but as a country we still have a long way ahead of us.
“We can only combat illegal wildlife trade if we all work together, hence, we will continue supporting Malawi Government in fighting illegal wildlife trade,” said Borsch.
The report, among others, reveals that government made 191 wild life crime arrests and secured 112 custodial sentences during the reporting period.
According to the report, establishment of Wildlife Investigations Unit in the ministry is one of the factors that have triggeredprogress in the fight against illegal wildlife trade.