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Tanzania 'not amused' by Malawi’s decision to burn impounded ivory

16 March 2016, 11:01 Brian Ligomeka, News24 correspondent

Blantyre  Tanzania has criticised Malawi for rushing to burn three tonnes of ivory worth more than $5 million which it said would have been useful in prosecuting alleged ivory smugglers.

Lawyer Christon Ghambi told journalists that destroying the ivory would affect the court case the Tanzanian government was pursuing against those who allegedly smuggled the tusks, which were seized in neighbouring Malawi.

He said Tanzania expected Malawi to defer burning the ivory until the alleged smugglers had been convicted.

“Tanzania is not amused with the decision to burn ivory. The problem is that it will affect cases in Tanzania. With the ivory destroyed, the case may be hard to prove,” said Ghambi.

Tanzania had since last year objected to the burning of the ivory, contending that a large proportion of the seizure was poached from its national parks and game reserves, and therefore it needed the tusks as evidence.

Malawi seized the 781 pieces of ivory from alleged smugglers travelling from Tanzania, at one of its border posts, in 2013.

Defended decision

The Tanzanian smugglers used two Malawian brothers, Chancy and Patrick Kaunda, to transport the ivory to the Malawian capital Lilongwe. The two were arrested and fined $7 000.

Last year, Tanzania used a court order to stop Malawi from burning the ivory. Lilongwe however went ahead after Tanzania failed to extend the order.

Malawi defended its decision to burn the stockpile.

Malawi’s director of Parks and Wildlife, Brighton Kumchedwa, told News24 that while the move would not prevent the illegal killing of elephants, it would help prevent smuggling.

“By burning the elephants’ tusks, we actually remove the ivory from the market and that reduces the incentive for people to engage in smuggling,” he said

- News24


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