Tuesday 23 July 2019

Conservationist Lynn continues her battle with ivory poachers in Malawi

Swords wildlife conservationist, Lynn Clifford in Malawi
Swords wildlife conservationist, Lynn Clifford in Malawi

Ken Phelan

A wildlife conservationist from Swords has reported to The Fingal Independent on her tireless work in protecting wild elephants in Malawi, and of her ongoing fight against the scourge of ivory poachers in the African country.

Lynn Clifford, who works with conservation organisation Wildlife Action Group, gave an update on her continued work in protecting wildlife in Malawi, and of the struggles and successes the organisation has seen so far this year.

She said: 'Malawi has been blessed with long rains which started in November 2018, and have just ended last month. The forest is lush, and as we head towards the end of May, rivers and streams are flowing at full capacity and our wildlife population is enjoying the availability of water and food.

'At the end of March, we unfortunately found a dead elephant that had been poached by a snare poacher. Three suspects have been subsequently arrested and prosecuted. Not a great end to the first quarter of the year, but we continue to try and limit such tragic events happening.

'On a positive front, we were awarded several new funding streams during the month of April. This vital funding will help strengthen law enforcement across the reserve, enhance human-elephant co-existence and strengthen community development. All proceeds are paramount to the ongoing efforts to protect the wildlife, their habitat and the goals of the project.'

Lynn added: 'In late 2018, to further promote human-elephant coexistence through keeping wildlife within the forest, and reducing illegal activities through controlling the number of people entering the forest, we extended the solar powered electric fence for 15 km on the western side of Thurma. This was made possible with funding from the African Elephant Fund, and we are extremely grateful for this support.'

Lynn reported that the illegal activity of charcoal burning, which results in deforestation, was brought under control by the Wildlife Action Group in 2017. Building of the electric fence and a camp in 2018 allowed the area to be further secured.

The measures resulted in regrowth of the forest, and with the presence of a large river and some marsh areas, the area is reverting back into 'a perfect haven for wildlife.'

Lynn said: 'Only weeks after the fence was erected, we had our first reports of elephants visiting the new camp. Since then, we are delighted to say that we have many sightings of different herds in that area. The good rains have assisted us, and this side of the forest is growing fast. The human elephant conflict in this area has reduced by one hundred percent. And, with the additional security and rehabilitation of the forest, these giants have reclaimed their place.'

Sadly, Lynn also reported the tragic death of ranger Geoffrey Umali, a 'born leader' with anti-poaching training, whose presence on the team will be greatly missed.

Lynn's work with Wildlife Action Group continues in protecting Africa's wild elephants and preserving natural habitats for the animals to live and thrive. An admirable achievement for this dedicated Swords wildlife conservationist.

Fingal Independent