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Poachers turn to Nepal following action in India

world Updated: Jun 14, 2010 12:28 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times
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Killing of four poachers inside Kaziranga National Park in north-east India last month was hailed as a major action against poaching of endangered one-horned rhinos.

But the incident may have led to deaths of several rhinos to poachers bullets in Nepal's Chitwan National Park. That is what forest authorities in the Himalayan nation seem to think.

"When there is pressure on poachers in Kaziranga, they turn to Chitwan and vice-versa," Minister for Forests and Soil Conservation, Deepak Bohara, told Hindustan Times on Monday.

Within three weeks of the Kaziranga incident, three rhinos were killed by poachers inside Chitwan leading everyone in Nepal including the government and wildlife activists to sit up and take notice.

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal held a meeting with security chiefs and officials from forest, defence and home ministries on Sunday to discuss the issue and take action.

Another round of deliberations took place on Monday where officials from the finance ministry and organizations like WWF Nepal were present.

According to official figures, 28 rhinos have died in Chitwan in the past 11 months. Thirteen of died them due to poaching, 13 to natural causes and two due to unknown causes.

After Kaziranga, which has the largest number of one-horned rhinos, Chitwan has the biggest concentration of the species. But rampant poaching has put the animal's existence at risk.

Prized for its horn, which is used a medicine or an aphrodisiac and fetches nearly $ 1.5 lakh internationally, a network of traders and poachers spread across India, China and Nepal is pushing the species towards extinction.

Wildlife experts say that while most of the poaching takes place in India, the animal parts are transported through Nepal and taken to China where they are sold or further forwarded to markets in the middle-east.

"Since the problem is not limited to Nepal alone, we need to tackle it together," said Bohara. Earlier this month, Nepal and China signed a memorandum of understanding to curb illegal trade on animal parts.

A similar MoU is likely to be signed with India soon, said the minister. Nepal is also set to constitute a Wildlife Crime Control Bureau.

In the meantime, the army, which manages affairs at Chitwan with forest department staff, has set up a four-member committee to probe the recent poaching of rhinos in the national park.