British Government has announced grant amounting to £297, 000 (about K310 million) to New Malawi Wildlife Crime Intelligence Unit (WCIU) project to tackle the illegal wildlife trade.
British High Commissioner Michael Nevin made the announcement Tuesday during a news conference at Lilongwe Wildlife Centre.
He said that this will build on previous British government funding to support law enforcement work through Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) with the Malawi authorities and the support his government is providing locally through the British High Commission.
“Malawi is marking a positive name for itself with a progressive attitude towards tackling wildlife crime. It is important that we work collectively and regionally to prevent Malawi and its neighbours from being used as source and transit points for this damaging criminal activity,” said Nevin.
He said in tandem with efforts to address issues such as corruption and professionalism, updating of legal framework and work with communities, Malawi can become a model for other countries to emulate.
Nevin said the project will help to develop sustainable livelihoods for communities affected by illegal wildlife trade through the introduction of Community Enforcement Networks whilst at the same time strengthening law enforcement in the country.
He said project partners Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Lilongwe Wildlife Trust will focus on law enforcement to provide a swift and effective response to serious wildlife crimes, particularly those involving elephants and illegal ivory trade using a multi-agency approach.
Lilongwe Wildlife Trust Executive Director, Jonathan Vaughan, said the extent and nature of the illegal wildlife trade globally has escalated significantly in recent years to involve organized criminal syndicates and Malawi has fallen victim as a trafficking hotspot and a distribution and transit hub for illicit ivory.
“A special WCIU will help to strengthen law enforcement, both in terms of the role of the criminal justice system and that of communities whilst also facilitating cooperation with our regional partners.
“In conjunction with other government-led initiatives, we hope to see improved interception rates which should dater would-be wildlife criminals who currently see Malawi as a soft target, particularly when it comes to the illicit ivory trade,” said Vaughan.
He explained that Malawi has become a hotspot targeted by criminal groups for ivory trafficking, due to most its location between some of the country’s worst hit by poaching – Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia.
Deputy Director for DNPW, Chiza Manda, said this will go a long way in the fight against illegal wildlife trade and poaching that the country is currently going through.
“On behalf of the Malawi government I would like to extend my gratitude to the Challenge Fund for awarding the grant and the British High Commission for their ongoing support. We look forward to working with our NGO partners, IFAW and Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, on its delivery,” said Manda.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :