The new Regulation of Species has resulted in the strict protection of an additional c. 216 species that are considered threatened in Malawi, including additional plants, fungi, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish and invertebrates.
The Regulation forms secondary legislation to the National Parks and Wildlife Act (NPWA), which came into effect in 2017. In addition to the c. 216 species, the Regulation protects thousands of other endangered species through the inclusion of IUCN red lists and CITES Appendix listings.
The legislation, which has been needed for decades, was drafted with the top scientific, conservation and species experts in Malawi and lists the three categories of species that are protected under the NPWA – protected, endangered and listed.
Protected species defines any mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, invertebrate, fish, fungi or plant in a protected area (a national park, wildlife reserve or forest reserve), that is not already defined as endangered or listed within the Regulation. A conviction for possession or dealing of a protected species holds a penalty of a fine of up to K5,000,000 ($6,900) and/or up to ten years in prison.
The endangered species list was created through a consultation of national and local experts, and includes caracals, servals and civets, antelope such as impala, duiker and waterbuck, reptiles such as the Nile crocodile, boomslang and leopard tortoise and birds including the African fish eagle and lilac-breasted roller. The penalty here is up to 30 years behind bars, with the option of a fine of up to K15,000,000 ($20,700).
The listed species are the most protected species in the act and a conviction for dealing or possession of a species in this category holds the highest penalty of up to 30 years in prison, with no option of a fine. Elephants, rhinos, leopards, lions, cheetahs and giraffes are all listed species, as are African wild dogs, Nyasa wildebeest and pangolins – the world’s most trafficked animal.