Kathmandu, August 15
Despite concerted efforts of police and other national and international agencies to crack down on smuggling and trading in body parts of endangered wild animals, the wildlife crime continues unabated in Kathmandu Valley.
Sleuths of Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police nabbed five persons with a huge amount of pangolin scales from Imadole, Lalitpur on August 13. The detainees are Bir Bahadur Tamang, 30, and Lalkaji Tamang, 52, of Dolakha, and Surya Shrestha, 21, Chandra Nepali, 31, and Bimal Nepali, 27 of Ramechhap. Police confiscated 4.15 kg pangolin scales from them.
According to police, poachers have to kill more than 40 pangolins to collect so much kilograms of their scales. They were believed to be awaiting an opportune time to smuggle the body parts abroad. Pangolin scales fetch around 2,500 $US per kg in the international market.
Pangolin scales are in high demand in Asian markets, especially China, as they are used in manufacturing bulletproof jackets and traditional Chinese medicine, a police source said. Chinese people believe that pangolin scales can heal swelling, increase blood circulation and help mothers produce milk.
Similarly, police arrested five persons from Chabahil with 19 pieces of dice made of ivory on July 14. Five others were also held with a live tortoise from Sundhara on July 14. Likewise, Police nabbed three persons from Nayabasti, Gokarneshwor in possession of a leopard skin on June 30.
According to police, the law enforcement agency recorded 40 cases of wildlife crime and 14 incidents of smuggling and trading in herbs while arresting 89 suspects in Kathmandu in the fiscal year 2014-15.
Smuggling and trading of body parts of red panda, leopard, musk deer, pangolin, elephant and rhino tops the crime chart.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has categorised the animals in Appendix II, which includes species that are no yet threatened, but could become endangered. Anyone involved in trading in conserved species could be slapped a fine of up to Rs 100,000 and a five to 15 years jail term.
A version of this article appears in print on August 16, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.