Machinga — Government has reiterated its commitment to ensure that professional standards are applied in developing and implementing wildlife conservation and management programmes to contribute to sustainable economic growth in the country.
Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture, Kondwani Nankhumwa made the commitment in Machinga where he presided over the passing out parade on Monday of 17 senior parks and wildlife assistants Liwonde National Park whose main objective was to deal with increased cases of poaching and other illegal activities in the protected area.
Nankhumwa said that the main aim of wildlife conservation is to attract many tourists who bring with them the much needed foreign exchange which is vital for the country’s economic growth. He said it is for this reason that government emphasizes on the enforcement of all laws governing the operations of national parks and game reserves.
He however noted that law enforcement is being derailed by the explosion of wild life crimes across Africa driven by increased consumer demand in China and South East Asia for products made from ivory, rhino horns and other animal bodies.
The minister noted that Malawi is not spared in this drive, resulting in the declining of population of the much affected animal such as elephants and rhinos. He pointed out that Malawi had an elephant population of about 4,000 a few years ago but the numbers have been reduced by almost half.
The minister said one of the ways to deal with poaching is to have well trained workforce as poachers are becoming advanced and aggressive. “Our rangers need to be equipped with necessary skills to face the poachers,” he added.
Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for Liwonde National Park, Blessings Msikuwanga observed that all animals in the national park are vulnerable to poaching as poachers use wire snares which are dangerous to animals.
He said during the 2013/14 fiscal year, National Park lost more than 300 animals of difference species.
African Lion and Environment Research Trust (ALERT) Changeta Wildlife Foundation provided financial and technical support resources towards the training.