Tackling Illegal Pangolin Trade in Malawi

Timeframe: 2022 - 2023
Country/Region: Malawi
Partner: Lilongwe Wildlife Trust (LWT)

The world is dealing with an unprecedented spike in illegal wildlife trade (IWT), threatening to overturn decades of conservation gains. The killing and trafficking of wildlife has been driven by a demand for illegal wildlife products, particularly ivory, rhino and pangolin, especially from the rapidly growing economies of Asia.

Malawi has achieved milestone victories in the fight against IWT in recent years, with the conviction and imprisonment of multiple members of one of Southern Africa’s most prolific wildlife trafficking syndicates. As a result, the trafficking of ivory has, at least temporarily, been strongly deterred, with elephant ivory trafficking declining by 50% between 2018-2020. However, Malawi has seen a sharp rise in pangolin trafficking in the same period and intelligence work highlighted continued organised criminal activity in the country and beyond its borders. It is therefore imperative that enforcement efforts are sustained, particularly regarding pangolin trafficking, whilst a more coordinated approach is taken to fully dismantle regional hubs and sustain a repressed ivory trade.

The project implemented by Lilongwe Wildlife Trust (LWT) aims at combining both short-term emergency interventions to tackle the immediate crisis in pangolin trafficking, and longer-term initiatives to help improve enforcement and conservation cooperation across Malawi and key partner countries.

Priority actions implemented include:

  • Improve law enforcement efforts on pangolin trade to disrupt criminal activity and achieve high conviction rates for pangolin cases.
  • Improve regional partner collaboration to support the dismantling of criminal networks’ activity across Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
  • Deliver best practice veterinary and rehabilitation support to rescued pangolins, ensuring high survival rates.