Conservationist made MBE for combatting illegal wildlife trade in Africa


Thomas Chapman, Beccles and Bungay Journal

Date Published

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A wildlife conservationist working to stamp out illegal wildlife trading in Malawi has been made an MBE. 

Jonathan Vaughan, who attended Southwold Primary School and Bungay High School, was recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list released on Saturday, June 8. 

Having spent his childhood in rural Suffolk, Mr Vaughan developed a growing love for nature and went on to study ecology at Sheffield University. 

He split the next ten years between consultancy in London and expeditions in Africa, before moving to Malawi in 2009 with his partner, Kate Moore, to become CEO of the Lilongwe Wildlife Trust. 

The trust, which started out rescuing and rehabilitating wild animals in need, has grown to become Malawi’s leading conservation charity and now supports the government’s crackdown on illegal wildlife trade. 

Werani Chilenga, co-chairman of the Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus and deputy minister for natural resources, energy and mining, said: “Jonathan is an upstanding individual who works tirelessly for the protection of our nation’s wildlife. 

“His status as a foreign national has been no barrier to working with the highest levels of government and his open and collaborative attitude have brought many individuals and partners together to work towards a common goal. 

“His many years of service here in Malawi combined with tenacity, insightfulness and strategic thinking have made him an asset to the cause.” 

In recent years, Malawi has been exposed as Southern Africa’s principle transit hub for criminals trafficking elephant ivory, rhino horn and other illicit wildlife products. 

Overall the trade is worth an estimated £15bn annually, the fourth largest illicit global trade behind rugs, people smuggling and counterfeiting. 

In the face of a growing crisis that threatens the world’s most endangered species, Malawi has been praised for its response after specialised investigations, strengthened legislation and private prosecutions led to record convictions. 

Mr Vaughan, who now splits his time between Malawi and Chediston in Suffolk, dedicated his award to the staff at the Lilongwe Wildlife Trust. 

He emphasised that, while he is honoured and humbled, the honour “reflects the collective achievements of them all.”