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Wildlife contraband seizure case in Nepal takes new turn

DEHRADUN (PNS): The seizure of 168 kg tiger bones and seven tiger pelts in Nepal during January has taken another twist with wildlife activists in Uttarakhand informing that 140 tiger canines were also part of the seizure. As one tiger has a maximum of four canines, it is estimated that at least 35 tigers would have been killed for the 140 canines.

However, Uttarakhand Forest department officials say that inspite of making enquiries from their counterparts in Nepal, they have not been provided any information.

On January 11, Nepal police had arrested two persons with two tiger pelts and 53 kilograms tiger bones in Gorkha district when the duo was trying to smuggle the items to Tibet while the next day two persons were arrested in Nuwakot district with five tiger pelts and 114 kilogram tiger bones being smuggled towards the Chinese border. Though wildlife activists had advocated a joint investigation involving Nepal, India and China to establish the source of this contraband, little concrete progress has been made in this direction.

Former vice-chairman of Uttarakhand’s Forest and Environment Advisory Committee Anil Baluni said that he had come to know that apart from the pelts and bones, the contraband seized in Nepal also included 140 tiger canines.

“The authorities in India don’t seem to be aware of this information. The Uttarakhand Forest department, too, has done nothing since the details of this seizure were revealed,” he said. Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Administration and Intelligence, and chief of the Anti-Poaching Cell, SK Dutt told The Pioneer, “I have been in contact with the officials in Nepal but so far they have not told us anything. The telephonic communication is not as effective as a visit to Nepal would be for collecting the relevant information.” The team slated to be sent by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to Nepal has also not visited the neighbouring nation yet, added Dutt.

The failure of authorities to confirm the details of the seized contraband have raised serious questions because 140 canines would have required killing at least 35 tigers and though Nepal, too, has tigers, most of the wildlife contraband is sourced from India which has a considerably larger population of tigers and other wild animals.

Activists in Uttarakhand have been stressing that most of the tiger pelts and body parts seized in January in Nepal have most likely been sourced from this State.

Published Date: Tuesday, March 5th, 2013 | 03:52 PM

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