Bone of contention

Kathmandu Valley is fast turning into a trading hub of wildlife parts. A report jointly released by Wildlife Watch Group (WWG) and Wildlife Welfare Fund (WWF), Nepal, indicates as much by labelling the Valley a conduit for smuggling of animal parts from India and Tarai regions into Tibet. Inside Kathmandu, animal parts trade is centred on Bouddha, Durbar Marg and Thamel and among goods on high demand are leopard and tiger skins, popular among Europeans and Americans, and upper class Nepalis and the royals alike. In this context, it is but natural that “...body parts of endangered species, including bones, skins, musk pods, bear bile and rhino horns” should be easily available in the capital market.

More alarmingly, the report hints at complicity of police personnel in abetting animal parts traders. Chitwan villagers, for instance, poach tigers and sell tiger skin to Nepali traders for as much as $1,000, while the latter fob off the same for as high as $11,000 to foreign tourists and businessmen — all under the nose of law enforcement agencies. This legal sanction, in turn, has further emboldened the traders. That the poachers and unscrupulous elements might take advantage of the fragile security situation in the country was expected. But, at the present, not only are the culprits escaping any kind of punishment whatsoever, they are also being helped by the very people who are supposed to bring a semblance of peace and security in the country. This unholy nexus must be broken. Added to that, better surveillance in border areas and stringent anti-poaching legislation would most certainly help.