Some of you may remember Kovu, a serval that we rescued 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 that some justice has been done we can share the whole story with you.
Upon release Kovu was collared with a GPS device, which enabled our team to monitor his movements in the park and, in addition to helping him out where possible in the early days, we 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 we mounted a search and from some partial signals from the collar we were able to trace it to a village on the outskirts of the park where Kovu’s unfortunate fate was revealed. We were able arrest the accused and the case came to a head last Friday, 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, and second for malicious damage to GPS equipment, which came with a fine of MK 100,000. He was unable to pay the fine and will now serve a 48 month jail term.
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.
Our aim is to release any animal possible so it’s devastating that the hard work that so many people put into Kovu’s rehabilitation and release were brought to such a distressing outcome, but after a long battle it seems some good has come out of it; hopefully people will think twice before resorting to wildlife crime in future.