By Charles Mkoka
‘Only Elephants should wear ivory’ and it is high time that courts slap stiffer penalties on culprits perpetrating ivory related cases.
This is the key message the marchers carried in banners and placards during the International Elephant march in Lilongwe that also took place in over fifteen other cities globally on Friday.
The march for African Elephants comes against a back ground of continued killing of the largest land mammal which has evolved into an international conservation crisis in recent year. Last year alone 36,000 elephants were killed for their ivory because of the growing syndicate by ivory traffickers to satisfy the illicit trade in China and Hong Kong.
The procession started from the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre (LWC) and ended up at Parliament Building presenting a four page petition to Malawi Government through the Ministry of Wildlife, Tourism and Culture, Rachel Mazombwe – Zulu.
Vincent Kaitano, vice- chairperson of Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi (Wesm), Lilongwe branch who read out the petition said that Malawi started experiencing heavy ivory trafficking when tens of tonnes of ivory were illegally shipped to Asia with Lilongwe being used as a conduit by international criminals. Since then there has been growing cases of illicit trade which is responsible for the massive elephants slaughter in the wild.
“In 2011 alone 13 ivory traffickers were arrested at Kamuzu International Airport as they attempted to smuggle about 9 tusks of ivory and an assortment of ivory products to China. The syndicate is well organised and uses locals to do the dirty work,” Kaitano told the gathering that took part in the march. More....