Poaching in Liwonde targets rare species

Written by  Ronald Amos

Wildlife conflict has been a concern especially among communities around Liwonde national Park.

Hippos most tourists attraction animals at the park Hippos most tourists attraction animals at the park

On several occasions animals found their way out of the park into villages and gardens destroying crops and sometimes killing people.

This development induced a spirit of hatred of animals among people contrary to government expectations that the same people should love and take care of the wildlife as it is the backbone of tourism.

Government and several stakeholders have poured in their resources constructing an electric fence surrounding the park to separate animals from the communities.
Latest is Vale Logistics a company which is constructing a railway line from Nkaya in Mozambique to Nayuchi constructing a 21 kilometre electric fence as part of its social corporate responsibility.

But barely two weeks after official hand over of the fence to government some people had already vandalized three kilometers of the fence by cutting the wire a development which meant that animals can freely walk out of the park to communities.

According to Park Manager for Liwonde National Park Blessings Msikuwanga although the fence has been maintained it is costing government millions as one kilometer of the fence costs over one million kwacha.

According to Msikuwanga the motive of the people involved in the malpractice is not yet clear as the fence does not stop people from getting into the park but rather animals from getting out of the park.

Briefing members of District Executive Committee for Mangochi Msikuwanga indicated that poaching in the park has reached worrisome levels as poachers are now targeting rare species like the black rhino which became extinct and government had to reintroduce the animals in the park.

Msikuwanga said on several occasions they have hire a veterinarian from south Africa just to un trap a black rhino and treat it in an effort to maintain the existence of the animals an exercise he said requires millions of kwacha.

Meanwhile Msikuwanga indicated that even though the park has not arrested anyone in connection to the malpractice it has involved chiefs and communities surrounding the park to stop the misconduct as patrols have not yielded intended results.

One of the initiatives is what UNDP is doing by building capacity of surrounding communities economically in the districts of Machinga, Mangochi and Liwonde.

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