Brighton Kumchedwa

Inspirational conservation leader..Malawi

Brighton Kumchedwa

Brighton Kumchedwa - Director, Department of National Parks and Wildlife for Malawi.

Malawi has made some tremendous gains for wildlife in the past decade, especially with Brighton Kumchedwa as the head of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife. Brighton has been recognized as Winner of the Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa 2017 for his leadership in taking the poaching crisis head-on, helping to create new laws and policies to investigate, prosecute and recognize poaching as a serious crime. Brighton was instrumental in working with African Parks in the recent historic ‘500 Elephant’ translocation where 520 elephants were safely rehomed, a conservation success story that made global headlines. “Brighton is truly a leader for conservation in Malawi and is leaving a lasting legacy for the future of wildlife in the country” continued Peter Fearnhead. “These awards are so well deserved as they shine a global spotlight on the heroes in our field, and hopefully inspire others to follow in their footsteps” - African Parks.

Since 2013, Brighton Kumchedwa has been director of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, determined to end Malawi’s status as a soft touch for elephant poachers and a major transit route for illegal wildlife traffickers from Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia.

Forceful, personable and tireless, he has co-opted the president and cabinet; persuaded parliament to approve a draconian new Wildlife Act imposing penalties of up to 30 years for wildlife crimes; and convened a top-level committee to coordinate the anti-poaching efforts of the police, military, intelligence, immigration, judicial and anti-corruption agencies.

Kasunga National Park’s elephant population, once numbering 2,000, is beginning to recover from a record low of 40. Ivory seizures have fallen by a third, suggesting traffickers have moved elsewhere. “I’ve had to do things differently and see what happens,” said Kumchedwa. “It seems to be working.”

The Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa - 2017

This award is given to an individual who has been judged to be emerging as a leading conservationist in recognition of their outstanding contribution to, and considerable success, in their chosen field.

Brighton Kumchedwa is a highly personable, strategic and dedicated conservationist. He has dedicated his life to conserving Malawi’s wildlife and has spent his entire career within the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), starting as a Parks Officer before and working his way up to his current position of Director of DNPW. Brighton holds an MA Environment & Socio-Economic Development.

Brighton’s openness and vision has secured multiple strategic partnerships with NGOs to implement large-scale education and training, alternative livelihoods, park management, combating illegal wildlife trade and wildlife veterinary support programmes. Brighton was instrumental in negotiating the agreement for African Parks to manage Liwonde and Nkhotakota National Parks, which were suffering from significant poaching and lack of investment. This was a game-changing decision and Brighton will continue to provide strategic leadership through his position on the African Parks Malawi Board. In 2014 Brighton commissioned the region’s first Illegal Wildlife Trade Review. Recognising that Malawi is now southern Africa’s major illegal wildlife trade route, he has worked tirelessly and in less than three years has personally secured Presidential commitment to fight wildlife crime; led the development of Malawi’s new Wildlife Act (with some of the toughest penalties in Africa); established the Inter-Agency Committee for Combating Wildlife Crime, a model for the region, and supported the Malawi Parliamentary Conservation Caucus.

Brighton says, “during my career I have sadly seen us move from a period of plenty in terms of wildlife to a period of huge losses. We must work every day to ensure that our wildlife and forests are not lost. The wildlife crisis we are facing is terrifying, but we are in a position to make a difference, before it is too late. That’s what I remind myself every day.

Courtesy: Tusk Conservation Awards

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