The Department of National Parks and Wildlife in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining has expressed concern over the recent seizure in Asia of ivory and Rhino horns originating from Malawi.
In a statement issued by the department and signed by Director of the Department Bright Kumchedwa, government says it is greatly concerned about the recent seizure of both ivory and rhino horn in Thailand, China and Vietnam between January and March this year.
According to the statement, the recent notable incident happened in China on 29th January at Pudong Airport where officials seized two checked baggage containing almost 39 kilograms of Rhino horn. The contraband was carried by South African Airways via OR Tambo International Airport which originated from Kamuzu International Airport
In another notable incident, on 5th March 422 pieces of ivory weighing 330kg were seized at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Thailand. They were carried by an Ethiopian Airlines plane which was coming from Kamuzu International Airport via Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa.
According to the statement, the other incident happened on 13th March, 2017 whereby about 119kg of rhino horn was seized at Bai Airport in Hanoi, Vietnam stacked in two bags carried by Kenya Airways which originated from Kamuzu International Airport.
However, Malawi government has said that all the contraband in the three cases was not from Malawi and in this case Malawi was just being used as a conduit for the contraband.
“This trend of events is indeed worrisome as it continues to dent the good image of Malawi internationally,” reads the statement.
The statement adds that the department is seriously engaging all security institutions at KIA to get to the bottom of the matter as investigations are at advanced stage.
The department has since assured the general public it is making every possible way to end illegal wildlife trade.
“The department would like to reaffirm Government’s position to fight this illegal trafficking through enhanced penalties in the amended National Parks and Wildlife Act No. 11 of 2017. The public is further informed that efforts have been scaled up in counteracting illegal trafficking through establishment and operationalization of an Anti-trafficking Unit within the department of National Parks and Wildlife,” reads the statement.
The department has urged Malawians to resist getting involved in illegal wildlife trafficking in any way such as aiding these transitional criminals or poachers and instead report all the suspects to law enforcement agencies.
“We all have a role to play to stop wildlife crimes in the country. To the wildlife criminals be reminded wildlife crime is a serious crime in Malawi,” stressed the statement.