Wildlife smuggling continues unabated

Kathmandu, December 13

Despite the police crackdown, wildlife smuggling and trade in parts of endangered animals continues unabated in the Kathmandu Valley.

Sleuths of Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police nabbed two persons with a huge amount of pangolin scales from Chabahil today. The detainees are Tara Bahadur Rai (32) and Bhupal Rai (24) of Thakle-6, Okhaldhunga.

Police confiscated 3.2 kg pangolin scales from them. According to officials, around 30 pangolins would have to be killed to collect that amount of scales.

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.

A recent study found that smuggling of pangolin increased eight-fold in Nepal in the last five years. The research found that in most cases, the endangered animal was smuggled to China via Kodari of Nepal.

Scales and body parts of the animal, called salak in local language, are in high demand for delicacies and traditional medicine in China and neighbouring South East Asian nations.

According to the findings, illegal trade of pangolin is looming as a major threat to wildlife conservation in Nepal.

Forests in the eastern region as well as in Sindhupalchowk, Kavre, Bhaktapur, Dolakha, Makawanpur and Dhading districts are habitats of pangolins.

The law enforcement agency has recorded 52 cases of wildlife crime in Kathmandu in the past one year.