Malawi President Peter Mutharika has declared war against poachers and those destroying trees and other natural resources in Malawi.
The President made the declaration on arrival at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe on Saturday after a two-week visit to the United States of America (USA) where, among other things, he was honoured as a gallant fighter against wildlife and environmental crimes in this country.
“I am going after you now. We are at war,” Mutharika warned the poachers and those destroying other natural resources. “Your time is up. You will hear from me.”
The President pointed out that the culprits use syndicates that make Malawi a conduit linking some neighbouring countries in the illegal business.
“I will run them out of this country,” the President charged, in what is one of his toughest speeches yet on the subject.
Mutharika was honoured on April 22 at an International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) United States Congressional dinner in Washington, DC, where he was a special guest, during a key function celebrating conservation success stories, including Malawi’s commitments to conservation.
Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba was also honoured at the same function, for his successes in sustainable natural resource management.
Mutharika described the honour he received as that which all Malawians should share, for their outstanding efforts in preserving the environment, including planting trees and protecting wildlife.
“I committed myself that we will continue to protect wildlife and natural flora and fauna but also to fight all these people who are destroying our trees,” he stated.
He explained that the war against those who destroy trees and the poachers, including sophisticated ones who export ivory through airport routes, will rage on because Malawi has now secured funding, from well-wishers, to increase the national capacity to curb the illegal activities.
Mutharika’s honour comes in the wake of World Wildlife Day commemorations, which earned Malawi international headlines for its decision to destroy its ivory stockpiles.
Although the ivory burning was postponed the night before—due to an outstanding court case which included a further 2.6 tonnes of ivory—if the case in question is concluded swiftly, Malawi could well become the first country in the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) this century to destroy its stockpiles, according to wildlife experts.
Commenting on his other accomplishments during his visit to America, Mutharika said he had fruitful bilateral and multilateral discussions with many US Government and private sector officials during his tight itinerary.
He explained that Malawi stands to benefit from the discussions he had with major international tobacco brokers and development and trade officials, among others.