Every year thousands of minor girls from Nepal are illegally trafficked into India and sold to brothels.
But while efforts are on to put an end to this scourge, there’s another lucrative trade that’s thriving across the porous borders between both nations without attracting much attention.
That’s the illegal trade of dogs from the Himalayan nation to India. Traders collect thousands of stray puppies from Nepal and sell them as pure Himalayan breeds to Indian customers at high prices.
The trade reaches a peak during winter when the Sonepur Mela, Asia’s biggest animal fair, at Bihar is held.
The illegal trade (export of animals without official documents is banned in Nepal) came to light following the recovery of 37 puppies on Thursday night by animal rights activists.
The animals some as young as one week had been crammed into mesh wire cages and covered by jute bags to avoid detection. They were being taken from Kathmandu to Sonepur on top of public buses.
Two persons arrested in connection with the incident told police that they have been engaged in this trade for many years but were never questioned by authorities either in Nepal or India.
Animal rights activists were suspecting a mass network involved in trafficking of puppies from Nepal, but were unable to expose it due to lack of proof. Thursday’s recovery provided them the evidence.
“Puppy trafficking, apart from being illegal, is an extremely cruel business. Most of these animals don’t survive the ordeal when the consignment reaches Sonepur,” said Manoj Gautam of Roots and Shoots (Nepal).
Nepal is one of the few countries in the world without an animal welfare law. Breeding and sale of pet animal goes on unmonitored and mostly through unregistered companies.
But activists are more worried that money from illegal puppy trade goes into trade of rare birds and animals.
“Nepali puppy export in fact funds international bird trafficking. Traders use money from dog sales to buy protected rare birds and embark on riskier forms of trafficking,” said Gautam.