Malawi courts hailed for historic sentences over wildlife crime

The Department of National Parks and Wildlife has applauded the courts for taking a decisive action towards the fight against wildlife crime in the country.

The development follows the sentencing of two Chinese nationals to 11 years imprisonment for being found with rhino horns and firearms illegally.

According to the Lilongwe Senior Resident Magistrate Florence Msekandiana, the sentencing of the Chinese nationals, who are 7 in total and other 2 Malawians, should be regarded as a serious warning to all wildlife crime perpetrators.

Msekandiana has also recommended that the Chinese nationals be deported when they complete serving their respective sentences.

Director in the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Brighton Kumchedwa said the landmark sentencing of the Chinese nationals is progressive trend in dealing with wildlife crime in the country.

“Malawi is no longer a playground for the likes of the Lin-Zhang syndicate that exploit our natural heritage, damage our economy, incite corruption and pose a risk to national security,” he said.

“This is indeed a victory for the Malawi, and a victory for wildlife in particular.

Illegal wildlife trade is viewed as a low-risk, high-reward crime for organised gangs who trade in multiple illicit products such as gems and arms.

Corruption has been found to be a critical enabler of the illicit wildlife trade, taking place at sourcing, transit and export stages, and involving both public and private sector`s abuse of power and trust.

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