Govt to form high-level panel to nail poachers

Kathmandu, May 16:

Ministry of Forestry and Soil Conservation will form an independent high-level investigation commission to probe into cases of trade in wildlife, poaching and smuggling of forest products.

“A strong high-level commission will be formed soon to investigate into all the wildlife trade nexus. Even the royal family may be interrogated,” said Minister for Forestry and Soil Conservation Matrika Prasad Yadav, addressing a press conference today.

He said the proposal for the commission would be sent to the cabinet for discussion soon.

He also claimed that most of the trophies of poached animals used to be supplied to the royal palace before they were smuggled abroad.

He also charged the Nepal Army of not helping the government in investigation of poaching cases. Three army deserters and a serving NA soldier were arrested on May 9 on the charge of being involved in poaching a rhino in Bardiya National Park in April, he said.

“The accused poachers were in the warden’s custody but the NA officials later took them away and are refusing to hand them over to the government for investigation,” he said, adding that he wants to bring the accused to Kathmandu to avoid undue pressure to free them and for their own security.

“I and the ministry secretary had gone to the security post of the Nepal Army at Bardiya National Park but they refused to hand over the persons even after we told them that they would be returned after investigation,” he said.

“I have told my secretary to write to the Defence Ministry to facilitate the handover for the investigation,” he said.