Information provided by: Lilongwe Wildlife Trust
2.6 tonnes of ivory from around 390 poached elephants was burnt in Mzuzu in the north of Malawi on 14 March 2016. The ivory in question was seized from two ivory traffickers, Patrick and Chauncy Kaunda, who were intercepted in Mzuzu by the Malawi Revenue Authority with 781 tusks hidden under cargo at the bottom of a container.
On 28th July 2015, the High Court in Mzuzu found the Kaundas guilty of money laundering and possessing ivory, fined them MK2.5 million (US$5,000) each or a seven-year prison sentence, and ordered the destruction of the contraband ivory.
The ivory in question has been traced to Tanzania and Mozambique and was in transit from Tanzania to Malawi’s capital of Lilongwe, and the initial court deadline for the destruction on 18th September 2015 was extended on application of the Tanzanian authorities, who were hoping to use it as evidence in another case. However, their application was unsuccessful and the burn went ahead yesterday.
There has been much debate in Malawi about whether ivory stockpiles should instead be sold rather than destroyed – last April the destruction of the government’s 4.1 tonne ivory stockpile was postponed and a new date is yet to be set. It is in fact illegal for the government to sell the ivory, and only criminals could profit from the ivory by selling it on the black markets, which further fuels elephant poaching.
Find out more about the Mzuzu case and the government stockpile here.
And watch this short video of the burning: