Taplejung, January 24:

The national bird of Nepal, Danphe (Lophophorus impejanus), is being killed indiscriminately in Khewang and Mehele Village Development Committees (VDCs) of the district.

The rare birds which migrated from the Kanchanjunga Conservation Area Project (KCAP) to the lower hills to protect itself from the winter chill are

being hunted by the local people for meat, said a local, Kishor Sai.

Hunters have laid traps in many places of the local forest, said the locals.

The national bird status given to the Danphe might have helped its protection and its number is increasing these days but those persons who are ignorant about it are hunting the bird, said acting conservation officer at the KCAP.

The locals of Lelep, Olangchunggola, Tapethok and Yamphudin VDCs are aware about the status of the Danphe because the VDCs lie inside the conservation area and the project officials conduct awareness campaigns for the locals about the importance of the bird and its preservation.

There are more than 40 Danphes in the KCAP.

According to the section 26 (4) of the National Park and Wildlife conservation Act, 2029, BS, the person who kills or injures the bird should be charged Rs 500 to Rs 10,000 and should be jailed for three months to two years or both.

The bird is considered to be rare and is included in the CITES list of rare birds which has prohibited selling of the bird, said Parag Shrestha, an officer of the project.