RCNP-army patrol arrests eight rhino poachers

Himalayan News Service

Chitwan, July 20:

A joint patrol of the Royal Chitwan National Park (RCNP) and the Royal Nepalese Army’s Old Gorakh Barrack has recently arrested eight rhino poachers, including a Naike, one of their leaders.

Among the arrested are Pemba Lama alias Yakche, a resident of Sitapaila of Kathmandu, who is said to be the group’s leader and a top rhino poacher in the country.

It was informed at a press meet organised jointly by the RCNP and the Barrack yesterday. They were arrested on June 19.

Pemba was arrested along with a Toyota motor, one peace of rhino horn, Rs 446,000 cash, Rs 1,900 Bangladeshi Taka, a spring balance and a mobile set.

All the eight persons have been kept in custody for further interrogation, the officials said.

It is said that Pemba had entered Nepal for the first time with the status of a Tibetan refugee about two decades ago, managed to get Nepali citizenship from Chame VDC. He had been staying in a rented room at Chhetrapati.

Pemba has already accepted that he has smuggled 20 rhino horns till date. “But we suspect he must have sold over 50 rhino horns,” said Kamal Jang Kunwar, protection officer at RCNP.

According to a source close to the Park, 28 persons were arrested in 2004/05 on charge of smuggling rhino horns.

Among them 22 are in police custody for further investigation and five have been released on bail.

Likewise, three persons arrested for smuggling tiger skin and bones have been kept in police custody for further investigation, the source close to ther park administration said.

Similarly, 29 persons were arrested on charge of timber smuggling during 2004/05. Among them, three are in police custody while 26 have been released on bail. During 2004/05, four rhino horns, two tiger skins, 6-kg tiger bones, 50 gm leopard bones, one Toyota motor, two motorcycles, one local-made gun and Rs 473, 000 cash was seized from the smugglers.

The number of rhinos in the Park has declined to 372 in 2005 from 572 in the year 2000.