President Professor Peter Mutharika has urged Malawians to have a common goal in conserving wild life.
He said Malawians have no other choice but to conserve the resources that nourish their existence. Adding that human existence stands in great danger because the natural resources that sustain its existence are in bad environment.
The President said it is worrisome that the nation keeps on destroying foundations of their existence and development, urging Malawians to stop poaching and illegal trafficking of rare species.
Mutharika was speaking at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre on Tuesday during an audience with the President of the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF), John Gantt and his team which is in the country on a number of activities.
“We have endangered our elephants and rhinos. We have endangered our national pride and committed crimes against our own existence,” he said.
The President also reminded Malawians that since the country’s economy is agro-biodiversity based, the importance of natural resources does not need to be over-emphasized.
“We can only sustain economic growth through agriculture if we ensure optimum and ecologically balanced use of land-based resources. They are the pillar of our economic growth,” said Mutharika.
Mutharika stressed that as a leader of this country his government is determined to stop and reverse the wanton destruction of the country’s natural resources.
For instance, he said his government has put in place key priority actions and the need to produce comprehensive legal and policy frameworks to effectively govern wildlife and forest resources.
He said these frameworks will focus on strengthening penalties for wildlife and forest crimes; improving implementation of policies and governance strategies; building capacity of law enforcement, judiciary, and legal institutions and creating economic benefits to local communities while exploring alternatives to charcoal use.
Taking his turn, the ICCF President, John Gantt reaffirmed his commitment to collaborating as partners with Malawi in fighting the wildlife crime crisis and conserving it.
Gantt also hailed President Mutharika for his commitment and actions to fight wildlife trafficking and emphasized ICCF commitment to continuing its support for this cause.
“I had fruitful discussions with President Mutharika and I can assure you that we will work with the Malawi government to strengthen the protection of national parks,” he said.
He also said while in the country, the team will visit two national parks with an aim of interaction and exchanging ideas on various issues of conservation and natural resource management.
The Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Bright Msaka commended Mutharika for spearheading the task of conserving the environment and natural resources.
He said the coming in of ICCF delegates in the country came as no surprise but because of the recognition of President Mutharika’s steering leadership in matters of conservation of the country’s natural resources.
Msaka said ICCF was impressed with Mutharika and his government’s commitment to fighting against wild life crime in Malawi.
In his remarks, Chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change, Welani Chilenga outlined some of the challenges that the country was facing such as the highest rate of deforestation in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region which he said is at 2.8 percent.
“Worrisome enough is that Malawi forest cover now stands at less than 20.4 percent and is further declining,” he lamented.mana