Smuggling of animal body parts continues unabated (Nepal)

By January 30, 2020Antipoaching
The Himalayan Times | January 24, 2020

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KATHMANDU: Police arrested a person with an elephant tusk from Lagankhel, Lalitpur, yesterday. A special team deployed by Pulchowk-based Metropolitan Police Sector found Tarakanta Chaudhary, 37, of Siraha in possession of the body part of endangered wildlife during a security check.

Officials said they had launched further investigation into the case to ascertain whether Chaudhary had poached the elephant for its tusk or had purchased it from someone else. Police are preparing to turn him over to Forest Division Office, Lalitpur, for legal action.

Despite concerted efforts of police and national and international agencies to crack down on smugglers and poachers, illegal trading in endangered wild animals’ body parts continues unabated in the country. Racketeers are found to be using Kathmandu as a transit for smuggling wildlife body parts to foreign countries, mainly China.

According to the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police, it arrested 61 persons with 7.6 kg pangolin scales, three bear gall bladders, two tiger skins, five leopard skins, one rhino horn, six musk pods and seven jaws of clouded leopard.

Statistics provided by Division Forest Office, Kathmandu, show that it received from police 1,468 live bird species, 92 leopard skins, 94 red panda skins, 26 rhino horns, 400 kg pangolin scales, 19 bear gall bladders, 19 tiger skins, 18 musk pods, eight wildcat skins and 14 elephant tusks, among others, from fiscal 1998-99 to fiscal 2017-18.

As many as 371 cases were filed against 726 Nepalis, 44 Indian nationals, 11 Chinese citizens, two Saudi Arabians, two Americans, two Turks,and one each Cambodian, Thai and Pakistani for wildlife crimes.

DFO is the only authorised body for prosecuting wildlife poachers and smugglers under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act-1973

The wild animals most sought after by poachers and smugglers include red panda, tiger, rhino, elephant, leopard, musk deer and pangolin. Police said international drug smugglers were found to be using Kathmandu as a transit for smuggling wildlife body parts.

According to a report of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Nepal is home to around two per cent of the global population of red panda amounting approximately to 300. Their number is dwindling due to the all-pervasive human pressure on their natural habitat and poaching.

Police said red panda hides and body parts were usually smuggled to China and Myanmar for their supposed medicinal qualities and aesthetic use.

Poachers have been found selling red panda hide for Rs 200,000 to 600,000 depending on their clients. Similarly, pangolin scales and body parts of other wild animals are in high demand in Asian markets as they are used in manufacturing traditional Chinese medicine, handicraft and decorative items.

Police investigation shows that local poachers usually come to Kathmandu with wildlife body parts in search of prospective clients and sell them to racketeers, who eventually smuggle the contraband to foreign countries. Any person arrested with body parts of endangered wild animals is handed over to the DFO concerned for legal action.

Anyone involved in the trade of protected species can be slapped a fine up to Rs 100,000 and a jail term of five to 15 years as per the existing law.