The Malawi Defence Force (MDF) has donated 150 assault rifles to the Department of Parks and Wildlife to help arm game rangers who are struggling to contain an upsurge in elephant poaching at Liwonde National Park.
According to the Nyasa Times, the department also received 10 000 rounds of ammunition from the Malawi Police Service (MPS) to support game rangers as they implement the country’s new para-military approach to anti-poaching operations.
Addressing a pass-out parade of newly-trained game rangers at Liwonde National Park in southern Malawi, Information, Tourism and Culture minister Kondwani Nankhumwa said the government is deeply concerned about the increase in the poaching of wild animals in the flagship national park, which is also popular among tourists across the world.
“We lose a lot of wildlife through poaching. Death of one animal is death of the country’s economy. We secured these rifles and ammunition to step up security in the parks and tourism sector as a whole. Poachers have sophisticated weapons and we need to be more sophisticated to counter them,” said Nankhumwa.
He said the government is aware of the dire conditions of service facing the game rangers and will work to improve them. Among other problems, game rangers in Malawi are poorly paid, poorly armed and poorly motivated.
The minister said his government will soon pay out part of the K50 million (kwacha) it owes in salary arrears and field allowances in a bid to motivate and retain anti-poaching staff.