Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Lilongwe News

Serval Poacher Jailed

18 February 2015

Categories: Homepage News, Lilongwe news


Some of you may remember Kovu, a serval that was rescued by Lilongwe Wildlife Centre in Malawi, , as an orphaned kitten and rehabilitated ready for release back into the wild last July.  Sadly he was killed by a poacher within just one month of release.  Whilst we always like to keep you informed of the good and bad news we have needed to stay quiet on the matter due to the impending court case.  Now justice has been done we can share the whole story with you.

Upon release Kovu was collared with a GPS device as part of the post release monitoring protocol, which enabled the LWC team to monitor his movements in the park and, in addition to helping him out where possible in the early days, they also planned to obtain information to help with future releases.  The signal was interrupted in mid-August and the team feared the worst.

With the help of wildlife officials, LWC mounted a search and from some partial signals from the collar, they were led to a village on the outskirts of the park where Kovu’s unfortunate fate was revealed. The suspect was arrested and the case came to a head at the end of January, with great success. The accused was found guilty on two accounts – first on killing an endangered species, for which he received a fine of MK 350,000 (£530), and second for malicious damage to GPS equipment, which came with a fine of MK 100,000 (£150), which are large sums of money in Malawi. He was unable to pay the fine and will now serve a 2 year jail sentence.

This is the second highest penalty ever given to a wildlife crime case in Malawi, so a huge triumph in the name of wildlife justice. Senior Resident Magistrate Damiano Banda made it clear that he was using all his powers to show that wildlife crime was being taken seriously by the authorities and that the very future of Malawi’s wildlife, and indeed tourism and thus economy, was being threatened by this type of activity.

In reaction to the outcome Jasper Iepema, Animal care manager at LWT said, “It is devastating that all the efforts put into releasing this endangered animal back into the wild were wasted. But some good has come out of today’s verdict. I think this serves as a lesson to others thinking of getting involved in wildlife crime.” Analysts have said that this case is considered to be a reference point for future prosecutions.

Born Free has supported the work of the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre since it first opened.  Providing a natural haven for rescued wild animals and working closely with the local communities, LWC is the first Centre of its kind to be accredited by Born Free as a ‘People and Wildlife Centre’. 

Make a donation to Lilongwe Wildlife Centre

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Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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