Malawi postpones torching ivory

2015-04-02 19:33
Freshwater diving in lake Malawi

Freshwater diving in lake Malawi

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Blantyre - Malawi on Thursday postponed the burning of four tons of ivory, saying it would wait until more elephant tusks were released from court cases before making a public show of its commitment to fighting the illegal ivory trade.

President Peter Mutharika said that the much-publicised burning would now happen when the current ivory stockpile, worth about $7.5m, was boosted by an additional 2.6 tons.

"We shall be able to burn a total of 6.6 tons of ivory," Mutharika told donors, locals and wildlife activists outside parliament in the administrative capital Lilongwe.

"Wildlife crime is escalating in Malawi and there is urgent need for action to deal with poachers and illegal ivory trade," he said.

He gave no date of the rescheduled event, but said poachers had reduced the number of elephants in Malawi from 4 000 in the 1980s to just 2 000.

Mutharika said he wanted to demonstrate his commitment to bringing an end to poaching and the illegal trafficking of ivory.

Experts said the four tons of ivory set to be torched on Thursday came from the tusks of about 500 dead elephants.

Brighton Kumchedwa, director of the national parks and wildlife department, said Malawi was witnessing increased killing of elephants and rhinos because of the increased price of ivory in Asia.

A major summit on elephant conservation held in Botswana last week said African elephants could face extinction within decades.

Last month Kenya burned 15 tons of elephant ivory, vowing to destroy the country's entire stockpile of illegal tusks by the end of the year.

Read more on:    malawi  |  southern africa  |  ivory
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