We were delighted to be invited to Mission Possible Malawi at the Ham Yard Hotel in Soho on 8 February, kindly sponsored by the Olsen Animal Trust, to learn about compassionate conservation in Malawi and how the country is combatting wildlife crime.
The Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, a grass roots NGO dedicated to protecting Malawi’s wildlife and its habitat hosted the evening which featured renowned conservationists from Born Free, Tusk Trust and Save the Elephants. Distinguished guests included the LWF's royal patron HRH Duke of Gloucester, H.E. Kena Mphonda, Malawi High Commissioner, and H.E. Michael Nevin, Former British High Commissioner to Malawi.
Tusk patron Deborah Meaden welcomed guests recalling her own travels to northern Kenya and Malawi before experts in different fields took to the stage including Will Travers OBE, CEO and President of the Born Free Foundation, Dudu Douglas-Hamilton of Save the Elephants, and Charlie Mayhew, MBE, CEO of the Tusk Trust.
Presenters told the story of how ‘the Warm Heart of Africa’ is fighting back against serious wildlife crime.
Malawi was recently identified as a key transit country for organized criminal syndicates trafficking illicit ivory to markets in the East. Illegal wildlife trade represents the fourth largest transnational crime in the world, it impacts national security, biodiversity and human health, and represents the greatest threat to the survival of endangered species such as elephant and rhino. Dudu Douglas-Hamilton said that scientists and researchers believe that around 100,000 elephants had been lost between 2010-2012, although exact numbers were hard to come by. She identified 13 countries as critical hubs of poaching and Malawi as a principal transit hub.
Despite the enormous challenges faced by one of the world’s poorest countries, Malawi is making significant progress.
Will Travers and vet Dr Amanada Salb talked of compassionate conservation in Malawi and the work of the LWT. They told stories of individual animal rescues which were bith moving and shocking. Salb, who has been a vet at the LWT centre since 2014 estimates that 3,400 snares and gin traps were removed from Liwonde NP alone during 2014. Snare and gin trap injurues being among the most common injury that the vets attend to - sometimes they are so severe that the animals limb has been amputated. Charlie Mayhew went on to say, "The challenge is to inspire people to care and to act. Conservation is about people." which led neatly on to the presentation by Wellington Chindzakazi, from the Malawi Police Service who since joining the team has seen fantastic results in poacher arrests in Malawi and talked of community networks and intelligence gathering.
We continue to raise vital funds for elephant and rhino conservation - you can support our work by going on safari with us or simply shopping at the Real World Store, thank you. In the last 18 or so months we have managed to raise in excess of £25,000 for conservation initiatives.
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