by Pragati Shahi
Yet another #wildlife #seizure in Nepal. The Wildlife Crime Control Pillar under the Central Investigation Bureau Of Nepal Police has arrested three people, all locals from Udaypur district with a set of elephant tusk on Tuesday from Lalitpur district. It is important to note that an elephant was found dead without a tusk inside a community forest in Udaypur in September last year. At that time the District Forest officials buried animal without conducting a proper investigation and a DNA test. The irony is that the medical report prepared by the District Forest Office, Udaypur mentioned that the cause of death was not established.
A month before this elephant was found dead inside forest in Udaypur, CIB team had made a big bust where they confiscated two elephant tusks along with a loaded 9mm caliber gun from Makwanpur district, less than 89 kilometer away from the capital Kathmandu.
While the reports of seizures of products made up of elephant hair or ivory were reported in Nepali media at different intervals, it was first time that the elephant poaching incident was reported. All these series of incidents are all part of the bigger picture of illegal wildlife trade and, unfortunately, I have seen very little or no interest at all from the concerned bodies over the current wildlife crime situation in the country.
After a long investigation an illegal wildlife trading kingpin from Nepal has been arrested and is currently in interrogation. We’ll have the full story as soon as appropriate. Investigation is ongoing so the name of the arrested trader is not being made public at this stage. The process though does raise other serious issues including the seemingly light sentence for tiger poacher Sanam Jagari.
Quick comment from Pragati Shahi:
The recent ‘big’ wildlife seizures have established wildlife crime as a transnational organised crime and no longer just an environmental issue for Nepal. The recent seizure of 162 kilograms of pangolin scales from two Chinese, travelling from Congo to China via Kathmandu, is a case in point. The investigators have found the involvement of Chinese along with Nepali and Bangladeshi nationals in illegal wildlife crime of not only pangolins but tiger and leopard’s skins and body parts, among others. The role played by the Wildlife Crime Control Unit of the Central Investigation Bureau in treating wildlife crime as a serious issue is a positive start.
The successful seizures and follow-up investigations gives us a sense of progress being made in combating wildlife crime, while at the same time, the court decision to release Sanam Jagari, a tiger poacher arrested with a hide in March last year by paying a mere NPRs 50,000 (Tiger falls under CITES I category and anyone found involved in tiger poaching and related crime carries a penalty of 5-15 years in prison and a fine between NPRs 500,000 and 1 million, or both) is equally disheartening for all those working in conservation sector. Those who were involved in investigations and arresting the poacher feel demotivated and say this verdict is a setback to combat wildlife crime in the country. This is unfortunate and the concerned authorities should understand the implications.