Malawi celebrates actions to protect elephants this World Wildlife Day

The RSPCA is celebrating today on World Wildlife Day after actions to protect elephants in Malawi are stepped up.

Malawi has completed its national ivory inventory and has  confirmed its intention to destroy the ivory stockpile as part of an ongoing programme to protect its elephants and stop the illegal ivory trade.

This promise coincides with Minister Hon. Kondwani Nankhumwa’s announcement of the development of Malawi's 10 year National Elephant Action Plan.

RSPCA, Stop Ivory and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife in Malawi are partnering to deliver a range of actions under this plan.  These include training park rangers in monitoring and protection; working with police and prosecutors to ensure all poachers and wildlife traffickers are investigated and prosecuted; and working with local communities to address human elephant conflict and develop sustainable livelihoods.

"The ivory trade is driving the killing of our elephants. Armed criminal gangs pose a real and immediate threat to our rangers and the communities that live near protected areas," said Director of National Parks and Wildlife, Brighton Kumchedwa. "Malawi values its elephants, which are the bedrock of sustainable development through tourism."

The Society has been awarded one of the 14 grants from the UK government’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund to increase work to combat wildlife crime in Malawi.

Donnamarie O’Connell, Senior Policy and Programmes Advisor said: “We were delighted to receive this prestigious grant from the UK government. We are looking forward to working with Malawi’s law enforcement agencies and judiciary to improve investigation and prosecution skills to combat elephant and rhino poaching.

“On this World Wildlife Day, Malawi has much to celebrate regarding its efforts to combat wildlife crime and RSPCA and Stop Ivory will continue to work closely with the Malawi government to support their ambitious plans for 2015 to ensure a long-term future for elephants and other wildlife.

“Poaching is an animal welfare issue as well as a conservation problem. Snares and bullets used to kill animals and the brutal techniques to remove elephant tusks cause immense suffering.”

RSPCA has worked in Malawi for seven years and in 2014 partnered with the government wildlife department to establish the Inter-Agency Committee on Combating Wildlife Crime. This multi agency task force is now leading the way in ensuring that all law enforcement agencies in Malawi are collaborating to stop wildlife crime.

"These actions demonstrate Malawi's commitment to tackling illegal wildlife crime and the value it places on its elephants." said Alexander Rhodes, Chief Executive of UK charity Stop Ivory. “Malawi has long been a soft target for ivory traffickers.  Tightening controls and the destruction of ivory stocks sends a zero tolerance message following Malawi's seizure of 2 tonnes of ivory in 2013, for which two men stand trial later this month.  Stop Ivory is delighted to be working with RSPCA to provide financial and technical support to Malawi, including for the development of its National Elephant Action Plan in line with the Elephant Protection Initiative”.

Notes to editors

  • In May 2013, Malawi customs officials seized over 2 tonnes of ivory being imported from Tanzania and arrested two people. This was the largest ever seizure of ivory in Malawi. The trial is set for the middle of March and could be a watershed moment for ivory prosecutions in the country.
  • RSPCA International helps to promote animal welfare across the world. Through partner with local and central governments and other institutions to develop, implement and enforce laws and regulations to protect domestic, farm and wild animals.
  • RSPCA’s expertise in law enforcement and prosecution for animal cruelty and wildlife crime is recognised internationally. The RSPCA funded and led four successful training courses for police and judiciary in Malawi, resulting in significant increases in animal cruelty prosecutions.
  • Stop Ivory is a UK registered charity established to deliver an immediate and long lasting intervention to bring an end to the poaching crisis and the illegal trade in ivory. It works specifically to implement the aims of the Elephant Protection Initiative. www.elephant
  • The Elephant Protection Initiative is an African-led, Partnership based, Results oriented initiative launched at the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade in February 2014. It brings African Elephant range States, non-range States, intergovernmental organisations (IGOs), non-governmental organisations  (NGOs), Private Sector and Private Citizens together to work in partnership to protect elephants and stop the illegal ivory trade.
  • The Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund is a UK government initiative, supported by the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.