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Nepal cracks down on Indian wildlife criminal

Jagdish Lodha is believed to be the kingpin of a major network of poachers and dealers operating across India and Nepal.

india Updated: Jun 06, 2006 15:35 IST

Close on the heels of news of tiger poaching in Nepal, a wanted Indian wildlife poacher was arrested in the capital on Sunday in connection with illegal trade in tiger, leopard and otter skins, says a local wildlife group.

Authorities at Royal Chitwan National Park had issued a warrant for the arrest of Indian wildlife trader Jagdish Lodha, who is believed to be the kingpin of a major network of poachers and dealers operating across India and Nepal, says Wildlife Conservation Nepal (WCN).

Lodha was captured under citizen's arrest by WCN and handed over to Kathmandu Police.

"The capture of Lodha illustrates how vital it is for India and Nepal to exchange enforcement intelligence," said Prasanna Yonzon, chief executive officer of WCN.

"Hailing from the Bawaria community in India he used to bring skins from central and northern India. Now he and his gang are targeting our big cats."

Seven of Lodha's associates are currently behind bars having been caught with two tiger skins, four leopard skins and 40 kg of tiger bone in two separate incidents in April 2006.

Lodha is believed to have given patronage to 50 families of Bawaria poachers, many of whom are now camping out in Nepal.

In the last 10 years Lodha is reported to have sold over 30 tiger skins to dealers in Nepal who supply the lucrative markets in Tibet and western China.

His father too was reportedly involved in poaching and was arrested following the seizure of iron traps in a wildlife sanctuary in India in November 2005.

Despite the setbacks associated with Nepal's current political situation, enforcement authorities have continued to target organised networks of criminals, cooperating with WCN, which has assisted with the provision of actionable intelligence.

"Building trust, transparency and the will to collaborate on trans-national enforcement is vital in the fight against international wildlife crime, between governments and civil society," stated Yonzon, who cited information provided by the Wildlife Protection Society of India regarding Bawaria poachers as key to Lodha's capture.

First Published: Jun 06, 2006 15:34 IST