Four arrested in possession of endangered red panda hide

KATHMANDU: Police on Monday arrested four persons reportedly involved in trafficking of red panda hides from Budhanilkantha Municipality-12 in Kathmandu district.

The arrested have been identified as Surya Bahadur Bhujel (39) of Balajor in Tinpatan Rural Municipality-6, Sindhuli district; Suk Bahadur Lama (40) of Jhapre in Dhunibesi Municipality-7, Dhading district; Yuvaraj Sapkota (37) of Tarakang in Madi Rural Municipality-8, Kaski district and Kamala Tamang of Kapan in Budhanilkantha Municipality-13, Kathmandu.

Acting on a tip-off that endangered red panda hides were being trafficked and sold in Kharibot area of Kapan in Budhanilkantha, a team of security personnel deployed from Metropolitan Crime Division, Hanumandhoka carried out the onsite investigation and arrested all four of them after a red panda hide was found in possession of Bhujel at around 3:30 pm yesterday. Police seized the hide packed in a blue plastic package inside a black bag being carried by Bhujel.

The alleged traffickers were handed over to the District Forest Office, Hattisar. They will be tried under the National Park and Wildlife Act 1973, according to police.

The arboreal mammal has been listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as its population is estimated fewer than 10,000 mature individuals and continues to decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and inbreeding depression.