Malawi – Hundreds of wildlife supporters in the city of Lilongwe joined thousands of others around the world to say NO to ivory, as part of the March for Elephants on 4 October 2013. The Malawi march was organised by Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, Wildlife Action Group (WAG) and the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi (WESM). A whole range of people from Parks scouts to school children and volunteers responded to their call.
Participants created banners and placards, some of the children made their own elephant ears and the Thuma team even brought along some replica tusks. The atmosphere was electric with singing and chanting. The march started from Lilongwe Wildlife Centre and finished at Parliament Building where the government accepted our petition calling for urgent action to tackle wildlife crime and especially stricter penalties for poachers.
Act to Protect friends in Kasungu could not make it to Lilongwe but instead organised their own march for local school children and followed this with songs, dances and poems about elephants.
Marches were organised in 16 other capital cities around the world where people marched peacefully to create worldwide public and media attention to the illegal ivory trade. Last year an estimated 36,000 elephants were killed for their ivory tusks, equating to one life lost every 15 minutes. At the current rate of poaching African Elephants could face extinction in the wild by 2025.
“The illegal ivory trade impacts everyone. I see first-hand the terrible suffering inflicted on our elephants and we are counting the costs as Thuma’s herds shrink at the hands of the ivory poachers.” Lynn Clifford, Director of the WAG elephant project in Thuma Forest Reserve, said to the press. “There’s also increased human-wildlife conflict as a result, where elephants may try to escape from the poachers and run into villages. Criminals with guns infiltrate communities. Tourism, which can have far reaching economic benefits, is affected. A few individuals benefit at the vast expense of others.”
Nellie Chiphwanya, Elephant March coordinator and spokesperson for Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, added: “This event was a great way to raise awareness about the ever-increasing threat that the ivory trade poses to the elephant species. Malawi’s elephants are an important part of our biodiversity and our rich natural heritage that we must join together to protect for the benefit of both people and wildlife and say NO to ivory.”
For more information on the marches around the world go to www.iworry.org and www.lilongwewildlife.org.