Kathmandu a wildlife trade hub: Report

Kathmandu, July 20:

Animal parts brought from India are being smuggled into Tibet through Kathmandu, a report on wildlife trade states, portraying Kathmandu as a centre for wildlife trade.

“Wildlife traders are using Kathmandu as a transit point while ferrying animal parts from India and the Tarai to Tibet,” states a report on “Report on Wildlife Trade & Traders in Kathmandu, Chitwan and Rasuwa”, released by the Wildlife Watch Group (WWG) at a workshop on illegal trade.

The WWG and WWF Nepal organised the workshop. Skins and bones of animals are used as decorative items while bones, horns, bile and musk pods are used as ingredients of ‘alternative’ medicines, according to the report. The report says that Bouddha, Durbar Marg and Thamel are major markets for these items. The report quotes an antique trader, Shiva Shahi, as saying that skin of tiger and leopard is in great demand in Europe and America.

Royal families and the Ranas also seek these items, says the report. “There has also been strong demand of skin from newly-constructed monasteries in Europe, America, Tibet and Nepal,” the report quotes Shahi.

Quoting Shahi, the report says, “An antique shop in Durbarmarg continues to sell body parts of endangered species, including bones, skins, musk pods, bear bile and rhino horns.”

Some of the Lamas of monasteries are involved in such illegal trade, the report states, adding, “Most of the people involved in such illegal trade are people of the Tibetan origin, while there are instances where representatives of both the Nepali and Chinese governments are found to be engaged in the illegal trade of such items.”

A Thamel-based businessman, Pradip Shrestha, claims that Thamel is at the heart of illegal wildlife trade. “Though everyone knows that such trade takes place in Thamel, no one is ready to state who are involved.”

The report quotes Ram Bahadur Tamang, a carpet weaver, as saying that villagers in Chitwan poach tigers and sell tiger skin to Nepali traders for $750 to $ 1000. Those Nepali businessmen later sell the same skin to tourists or businessmen for $7,600 to $10,700.

The report quotes an interviewee as saying that police know about

wildlife traders. It accuses police of being involved in the trade. Wildlife traders bribe police officials to prevent arrest of persons involved in wildlife trade, the report says.