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Nepal's far west a ‘transit’ point for wildlife smugglers to Tibet & China

February 23, 2015

By Bhawani Bhatta

Ekantipur, February 22, 2015 - Kailali and Kanchanpur district are emerging as a transit for smugglers supplying animal parts from Nepal as well as bordering Indian districts to Tibet in China, authorities concerned said referring to the increasing number of arrests they made in the past couple of months.

“We have witnessed an increase in the number of animal part smuggling cases through Kailali and Kanchanpur border points,” said Inspector Siddha Raj Neupane, who is also the in-charge of regional police investigation team.

“Smugglers were using the route for years but the frequency has increased of late,” said Bed Kumar Dhakal, chief conservation officer at the Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. He said the increase in the activity and nature of arrests suggested that smugglers in both countries may have been working in a coordinated manner. Over the past six months, poachers have killed three leopards in Dodhara and Chandani of Kanchanpur .

The increase prompted the authorities from both Nepal and India to seek concerted efforts, Dhakal said. “Authorities from both countries are discussing about the implementation of preventive measures and coordinated action to monitor and control such activities,” he said.

According to Sub-Inspector Birendra Johori, in-charge of the Mahakali Regional Investigation Team, forest officials of Pilbhit district in India informed them that smugglers killed around 65 tigers in the region last year. Johori said smugglers arrested by Indian authorities said they use poisonous substances, including pesticides, to kill the protected animals. Johori said smugglers in their statement have confessed to working in separate teams with pre-defined roles.

Meanwhile, Kanchanpur District Forest officer Pashupatinath Koirala said the two Tarai districts were the favoured route for smugglers for decades and that illegal activities were revealed of late due to effective work of forest and security officials. “People say the area is infamous as an international smuggling route and smugglers from India travel via Mahendranagar to Taklakot in Darchula to smuggle the contraband into China as the demand for such animal parts is high there,” Koirala said.

Ramesh Chand, chief of the District Forest Office in Bajhang, said animal parts are smuggled to China and Hong Kong via Bajhang through Saipal. “The final destination of the smuggled items is Tibet in China,” he said.

Chand, however, said the activities of poachers in Nepal far less in comparison to those in India.

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