Ivory and rhino horns recently seized at Suvarnabhumi airport in Thailand were not from Malawi, the director in the Department of Parks and Wildlife Brighton Kunchedwa has said.
Recently, Thailand authorities confiscated more than 300kg of elephant tusks which were reported to be from Malawi at Suvarnabhumi airport and arrested arrested a Gambian national on charges of ivory smuggling and violating customs laws.
A statement issued by the Customs Department in Thailand said packages stuffed with ivory weighing 330 kilogrammes, were discovered on two Ethiopian Airline flights from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and were coming from Malawi’s Capital City, Lilongwe.
But Kunchedwa in a media statement seen by Nyasa Times said after investigating the matter, they found out that the information was misleading, saying Malawi is just being used as a transit route.
“Malawi is simply being used as a conduit for the contraband, this is worrisome as it continues to dent the good image of Malawi internationally,” Kunchedwa said.
He also said the ivory trunks seized in China and Noi Bai Airport in Vietnam were not from Malawi.
Kunchedwa said they have launched investigations at Kamuzu International Airport to get to the bottom of the matter.
He said Malawi is “committed” to eradicating wildlife crime.
Malawi is widely considered a weak link in the fight against illegal ivory trade due to graft, weak wildlife legislation and poor law enforcement.
Ivory is highly sought for jewellery and decorative objects and much of it is smuggled to China and Thailand, where many wealthy shoppers buy ivory trinkets as a sign of financial success.