Ex-poachers come clean on rhino poaching

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, May 27:

Two poachers — Prem Bahadur Biswokarma and Bir Bahadur Praja — who are serving jail sentences for poaching rhinos in Chitwan district, revealed that poachers work for a very meagre sum of money. They are basically lured into the poaching business by city people who are more involved with the international black market. This came to light during an interaction in course of the week-long campaign organised by the Worldwide Fund for nature-Nepal (WWF) in association with government and non-governmental organisations to save the one-horned rhinos at the Royal Chitwan National Park (RCNP). The two rhino poachers were fetched from jail to the programme venue and asked to recount their experiences at the interaction as a part of the campaign to collect more information from the poachers about their activities. The campaign started on May 22 with the theme “Ustai Prani Ustai Pida; Milera Jogaun Ek Singe Gaunda” (Same creature, same agony, let’s save the one-horned rhino).

The objective of the campaign is to create awareness among locals in the buffer zone of Royal Chitawan National Park (RCNP), the local print and electronic media and also school students in the district, according to WWF. Chief warden of the RCNP, Shiv Raj Bhatta, stressed on the need for concerted efforts towards rhino conservation. Director of the DRM unit of the WWF, Dr Sarala Khaling, highlighted the immediate need for detailed research on various aspects of rhino conservation such as the history of conservation and biological reasons behind the decline in number of rhinos. Royal Nepalese Army Colonel Ajit Thapa and Major Ganga Khadka of Purano Gorakh Gana of RCNP said priority to national safety and merging of posts in Chitwan could a reason for the decline in rhino numbers, as shown by the Rhino Count 2005.