Kasungu, Malawi — Two men suspected to be part of a notorious poaching gang were arrested and two elephant tusks and other elephant parts were confiscated by IFAW-trained and supported game rangers in Malawi on Friday.
The operation followed the earlier discovery of the carcass of one of Kasungu National Park’s best-known bull elephants, Poko. The elephant was found shot dead and mutilated.
“Flawless tracking by IFAW-trained rangers within the park and the help of our community informant network ensured we were able to narrow down the area where we suspected the poachers were lying low,” said Mike Labuschagne, IFAW's Head of Law Enforcement.
“When word surfaced that two men were looking for buyers for ivory tusks, our team moved in and made the arrest,” said Labuschagne. The cooperation between the Department of National Parks and Wildlife rangers and the IFAW advisory team was exemplary.
Two ivory tusks weighing 17kgs, a variety of elephant body parts, and machetes were recovered. The arrested men also led investigators to the site of the illegal firearm, which was also confiscated. Later, the shotgun slug that killed Poko was recovered from the carcass and matched to the illegal firearm and ammunition seized from the poachers.
The suspects are being held in custody pending a court appearance. If found guilty they could face up to seven years imprisonment.
“As long as Kasungu National Park is under IFAW's watch, no elephant will be deprived of justice. We are training rangers for excellence and depend deeply on the community for their support which we are grateful to receive. The death of Poko was tragic, but we are confident that we have disrupted a deadly gang of poachers. Elephants will be safer as a result,” concluded Labuschagne.
IFAW began supporting anti-poaching efforts in Kasungu National Park in December 2015 with the loss of only two elephants to poaching during that time. Prior to that and mostly due to poaching, elephant numbers in Kasungu had dropped from over 1,000 individuals in 1977 to 50 in 2015. Elephant numbers are now on the rise and more than 80 elephants now roam the park.
About The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW):
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is a global non-profit helping animals and people thrive together. We are experts and everyday people, working across seas, oceans, and in more than 40 countries around the world. We rescue, rehabilitate, and release animals, and we restore and protect their natural habitats. The problems we’re up against are urgent and complicated. To solve them, we match fresh thinking with bold action. We partner with local communities, governments, non-governmental organisations, and businesses. Together, we pioneer new and innovative ways to help all species flourish. See how at ifaw.org.
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