Wood smuggling, wildlife poaching cases up

Jhapa, April 16

Taking advantage of the government-imposed nationwide lockdown, smugglers have intensified felling trees and poaching wildlife in Jhapa.

While the police administration is putting full efforts to halt the spread of novel coronavirus and forest users’ groups are staying indoors abiding by the lockdown regulations, wildlife and timber smuggling has become rampant in the district. Gangs of smugglers are felling trees and wildlife poaching has picked up pace in the various forests of the district.

Chandragadhi Forest Group committee member Lok Bahadur Kunwar said everyone was focused on efforts to contain the virus spread, but smugglers were taking advantage of the situation. “Some forest groups have now started patrolling as smugglers have been kindling fires and killing wildlife,” said Kunwar.

Daily wage earners too have started poaching wildlife after becoming jobless due to the lockdown. Jhapa forests are home to deer, hares, peacocks, among other birds and animals. Locals say that the lockdown had obstructed protection of wildlife and forests.

Following the rampant deforestation, and smuggling of wildlife, most community forest groups have started patrolling to prevent timber theft and smuggling of wildlife. Forest Division Office Jhapa said forests were being set on fire and poaching and smuggling had emerged as major problem during the lockdown. The office had issued a notice banning locals from entering the forest during the lockdown.

Forest Division Office Chief Bishnulal Ghimire warned that people would be punished severely if they entered the forest during the lockdown.

However, timber smuggling and wildlife poaching have not stopped, said a local.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 17, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.