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  • Christine Chumbler
    Feb 1, 2000
      This article includes a quote from my favorite parks and wildlife officer. My skin crawled...

      Poaching Boomerangs At A Malawi National Park

      Panafrican News Agency
      January 31, 2000
      by Raphael Tenthani

      Blantyre, Malawi (PANA) - Communities surrounding Liwonde National Park, some
      120 km north-east from Blantyre, are feeling the effects of poaching in the
      protected area as the animals are hitting back.

      The park is home to large game like elephants, rhinoceros and hippopotami. This
      makes it among Malawi's greatest tourist attractions. But poaching is threatening
      wildlife in the park.

      Jester Nyirenda, parks and wildlife officer for Liwonde, said if nothing is done
      quickly the game and consequently the park itself will be pushed to extinction.

      "Poachers have vandalised an eight kilometre stretch of electric wire fencing
      around the park," he said.

      Regional parks and wildlife officer Haxwell Jamusana said most of the vandals and
      poachers are people from villages surrounding the park, who infiltrate it looking for
      timber or small game for meat.

      They mainly use bows and arrows or spears, basket traps and other types of
      snares to kill the animals.

      But an occasional professional poacher, armed with dangerous weapons like
      AK-47 assault rifles, engages game scouts in gun battles, jostling for elephants
      whose ivory fetches a lot of money at underworld markets. But this is
      boomeranging back to the communities. Now that many crops are green in the
      field, elephants and hippopotami are having a field day since there is no wire to
      restrain them from plundering the crops.

      Every night herds of elephants roam the gardens, partaking of the succulent tender
      maize crops.

      Jamusana said it was ironical that people are now complaining to government
      about the wild animals destroying their crops while the communities themselves
      vandalised the electric wire fencing.

      He said government duly created a buffer zone around the park so that
      communities can use the natural resources there in. But due to population
      pressure the resources are quickly being depleted.

      "It is true the population is growing rapidly and demand for food and land is
      increasing," he added. "But protected areas are supposed to be protected for the
      general good of the country."

      People around the park complain that government should send armed game
      scouts to control the animals that are not only destroying crops but also killing
      people.

      Wildlife officials warn that without the wire fencing a lot of people may be killed
      because once a big game like elephant or hippo is wounded it runs amok and
      tramples upon anything in its way.

      Meanwhile, government is appealing for funds to re-erect the fencing to control the
      game.

      *****

      Cattle Thieves Outwit Soldiers At Army Barracks

      Panafrican News Agency
      January 31, 2000

      Blantyre, Malawi (PANA) - In what can best be described as a daring robbery
      venture, a group of cattle rustlers late last week penetrated the Malawi Army
      headquarters in Lilongwe, stealing 38 heads of cattle.

      Army spokesman Lt. Col. MacLoyd Chidzalo said the army was astounded as to
      how the gang managed to penetrate the heavily fortified barracks and easily walk
      away with the animals.

      "All our units keep herds of cattle for welfare purposes. We don't know how the
      theft could have happened. But whoever did this appears to have been
      knowledgeable of the place," he added, hinting at a possible inside job.

      Chidzalo said over the weekend the military police with the regular police service
      managed to recover 29 of the stolen cattle.

      No arrests have been made yet.

      Meanwhile, police spokesman Oliver Soko said police have information of a cattle
      rustling ring operating in southern Malawi, bordering Mozambique.

      He said stolen cattle are being taken from Malawi across the long porous border
      into Mozambique by the syndicate.
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