LILONGWE, Malawi – Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) last Wednesday intercepted nine wooden boxes stacked with pieces of worked ivory destined to China through the global logistics delivery express DHL by a Malawian middle man name Mark Nyirenda, a Lilongwe resident based in Area 18.
The contents that were being shipped to China surprised KIA security detail during baggage check after they reached the electronic scanning device. In no time the Police did not hesitate but called for the expertise advice of a wildlife specialist, Senior Assistant Parks and Wildlife Officer, Miles Zidana. He confirmed that the contents packed in the wooden boxes were indeed pieces of worked ivory weighing 50 kilograms. The beneficiary of the illicit goods was Axanga, Veniiane Nantha; Lao, China under Airway Bill number 1964394176.
But upon hearing that the contents of the consignment needed verification the local middle man Nyirenda escaped from the premises, but his details on the airway bill helped investigators to track his whereabouts. It was later revealed that the owners of the ivory are two Chinese nationals working at the state of the art Golden Peacock Hotel in Lilongwe. The two nationals were immediately arrested and are waiting to appear in court soon after being granted police bail.
Meanwhile, following concerns that have been raised through the multi agency taskforce on low fines and sentences meted on traffickers recently. The case has been moved to a magistrate of higher jurisdiction at Chief Resident Magistrate Lilongwe premises.
The case file has been handed over to the Central Regional Prosecution team according to Assistant Director of Parks and Wildlife, Samuel Nyanyale. “The suspects will appear in court on Thursday,” Regional Prosecutor, Levi Mangani confirmed in an interview on Wednesday.
Lilongwe Wildlife Centre Manager, Jonathan Vaughan said recently that there is a need to sensitize citizens and airport staff that KIA is being frequently targeted by criminals trading in ivory and other wildlife artefacts as an exit route to the outside world.
He expressed worry at the pace Chinese nationals are being connected to the cases of illegal ivory in the country. The Malawians middle men are simply being used to decimated elephant populations in the country and this is very unfortunate indeed.
The arrest comes at a time when conservationists are planning to join a global march on elephants and ivory in Lilongwe on 3 October, 2014.