Malawi's first high profile campaign tackling wildlife crime was officially launched on Monday 3rd March, to coincide with World Wildlife Day.
The global event was proclaimed by the United Nations to highlight the intrinsic value and contributions of wild animals and plants and encourage governments, NGO's and individuals to step up and help protect wildlife, in particular to ensure that international trade does not threaten endangered and protected species.
The response from Malawi's Department of National Parks & Wildlife was to partner with Lilongwe Wildlife Trust and introduce a hard hitting campaign focusing on the devastating ivory trade. Across Africa, an elephant is killed every 15 minutes for its ivory tusks and at this rate none will be left roaming wild by 2025.
Mr Brighton Kumchedwa, Director for the Department of National Parks & Wildlife, who attended the International Wildlife Trafficking Conference earlier this month, said, "We have been working hard behind the scenes to formulate our response following these talks. We are facing a crisis situation and we need to act fast to protect our natural heritage. For example, to think that poaching has brought Kasungu National Park's elephant population down from 2000 to just 200 is a devastating statistic."
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of protecting endangered species like elephants, the impact of wildlife crime on both animals and people, the law and action being taken to combat it. Billboards, as pictured, have been launched in strategic locations such as Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) with TV, radio and press following this month. Other activity will include round table discussions with the country's top government officials and wildlife experts hosted by the British High Commission, a public exhibition held at Lilongwe Wildlife Centre and workshops with police, judiciary and other law enforcers to bring the issue to the top of everyone's agendas. A wildlife emergency hotline has been set up to report any illegal activity and any information received will be treated in the strictest of confidence.
Jonathan Vaughan, General Manager of Lilongwe Wildlife Trust said, "As the country's leading wildlife welfare and conservation charity, we are pleased to be able to work alongside the Department on such a high profile campaign. And we are not the only ones committed to making a difference - we have been speaking to a number of other NGOs and private companies who want to join us in support and we look forward to working with them."
If you have any information regarding the trade of ivory or rhino horn then please call 01 759 853 or 0 88 44 88 999.
--A joint press release from Department of National Parks & Wildlife and Lilongwe Wildlife Trust.