Wildlife parts smuggling continues despite strict lawsAround 20 suspected wildlife poachers and smugglers have been booked since the start of the new fiscal year.
On October 23, the Metropolitan Police in Lainchaur arrested two men from Kathmandu with pangolin scales and a tiger’s hide.
The two men were identified as Nawaraj Neupane, 28, of Kispang Rural Municipality-3, Nuwakot, and Keshav Aryal, 22, of Siranchowk Rural Municipality-6, Gorkha.
“Neupane and Aryal were caught with pangolin scales weighing 1.4 kg and a tiger’s hide measuring 3 feet 11 inches,” said an officer.
The duo was taken to the Kathmandu District Forest Office and charged with smuggling of wildlife parts under the National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act.
Pangolin scales are among the most trafficked items in the world.
“Pangolin scales fetch around USD 3,000 per kg in the international black market. They are in high demand in Asian markets, especially in China, where they are used in manufacturing traditional medicines,” said Kathmandu District Forest Officer Basu Pokharel.
More recently, on November 4, a team from the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police arrested Saroj Lamsal,24, of Dhulikhel, and Surendra Shrestha, 25, of Ramechhap, from Sinamangal, Kathmandu, for their alleged involvement in smuggling the skin of a protected animal.
Both Lamsal and Shrestha are likely to face jail terms
Anyone involved in poaching and trading of conserved species is liable to up to a 15-year jail term and a fine not exceeding one million rupees or both as per the National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1973.
Wildlife poaching and smuggling of animal parts are common in the country despite the law.
“Most people who get arrested for poaching and smuggling of protected animals do not know the consequences of their actions. Many of them are poor and uneducated people who are lured by wildlife traffickers with financial inducements,” said Roshana Pokhrel, an officer at the forest office. “They commit the crime to make quick money but end up serving jail time for years.”
Conservationists say while the authorities concerned have prioritised the conservation of animals like one-horned rhinoceros and tiger, lesser-known species like the pangolin are being hunted towards extinction.
According to the data maintained by the District Forest Office, as many as 70 poachers were booked in the past fiscal year. Around 20 suspected poachers have been booked since the start of the new fiscal year.