Malawi First in SADC to Torch Ivory Stockpiles

archive photo © IFAW Kenya ivory burn
Tuesday, 31 March, 2015
Cape Town, South Africa

Malawi’s decision to torch four tonnes of ivory on Thursday has been hailed as brave and groundbreaking, standing out in stark contrast against other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, some of which resolutely demand the right to the sell their stockpiles.

“Put simply, in deciding to burn their ivory, this small, deeply impoverished country has stolen the moral high ground from the rest of its SADC peers when it comes to publicly saying ‘so far and no further’ to poachers and traffickers of wildlife,” said Jason Bell, Director of IFAW Southern Africa.

“Putting ivory beyond use sends a powerful message to the criminals behind the illegal wildlife trade. While other SADC countries like South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe continue to demand their rights to benefit from the sale of their ivory stockpiles, Malawi seems committed to finding other ways to successfully fight wildlife crime and support their national parks. The bigger and more powerful countries in SADC should learn a lesson from them.”

Last week Malawi signed onto the Kasane Statement on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, in which countries commit to ending the scourge of illegal wildlife trade, recognising that poaching and trafficking of wildlife undermines the law and is linked to corruption and organised crime.

“As one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities, valued at US$19-billion annually, illegal wildlife trade ranks among damaging and dangerous global crimes such as trafficking in drugs, people, oil and counterfeiting,” said Bell.

Malawi, which is rated the world’s eighth poorest country was devastated by the worst floods in living memory earlier this year, killing nearly 300 and leaving almost a quarter of a million homeless in the south of the country.

“At a time of immense need in Malawi the announcement by the government that President Peter Mutharika will set fire to four tonnes of ivory in a ceremony at parliament in Lilongwe on Thursday shows Malawi has its priorities straight when it comes to their commitment to save wildlife,” said Bell.

“Malawi has bravely swum against the tide of other SADC countries that see their stockpiles as a cash cow to bankroll their conservation efforts, while ignoring the irrefutable truth that a legal trade in ivory enables and encourages illegal trade and poaching.

“Instead they have joined a powerful groundswell movement that, in just the past year, has seen ivory stockpiles destroyed in countries like Chad, Kenya, Belgium, France, the US, the UK, China and Ethiopia, while Kenya has committed to burning its entire remaining stockpile in 2015. IFAW applauds Malawi.”

IFAW has been active in Malawi at Liwonde National Park since 2011, through its Liwonde National Park Conservation Programme, in which it partners with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife. In 2013 IFAW support helped build the Chikolongo Community Fish Farm which provides a livelihood opportunity for local people and secure access to safe drinking water.

IFAW also partners with the ngo HELP Malawi and this year will roll out IFAW’s Animal Action Education Programmes to schools close to Liwonde, intended to significantly improve school success rates in local communities who live daily with wildlife.

The 2013 IFAW report, Criminal Nature: The Global Security Implications of the Illegal Wildlife Trade, documents the threat the illegal wildlife trade poses to elephants, rhinos and people.

To combat this deadly illegal trade, IFAW trains law enforcement officers – more than 2,600 to date -- in wildlife trafficking prevention in  source, transit and consumer countries throughout the world. The organization collaborates with INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme, regional law enforcement bodies and national wildlife law enforcement agencies.

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos are available at www.ifawimages.com.

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