Big cats face fresh danger with poachers back on the prowl

  • Indian gypsy groups have entered Bardiya, Kailali districts: Authorities
- PRAGATI SHAHI, Kathmandu
Despite the increase in the numbers of tigers, poaching remains a risk to their population

May 18, 2016-Intel reports that tribal gypsy groups from India are entering the Nepali territory in Bardiya and Kailali have put park authorities and security officials on high alert. 

The Indian tribal gypsy groups, known as Banjaras, are infamous for poaching endangered animals, including tiger. 

“On May 9, our informants tipped us about the movement of Banjaras from India in West Nepal with an intention to hunt tigers. Based on this information, I informed the authorities at the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation about the situation and requested necessary measures to ensure protection of tigers in the respective tiger habitats,” said DSP Pravin Pokhrel, chief of the Wildlife Control Bureau under the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police. 

The Banjara groups, who are actively involved in killing tigers in national parks and wildlife reserves in West Nepal in the recent months, are learnt to have entered the country via Nepal-India border in Bardiya, said DSP Pokhrel. “The CIB has already mobilised a team on the ground to monitor the situation,” he added. 

Last week, two key poachers and wildlife traders involved in killing tigers in Bardiya were arrested by CIB officials. 

Lal Bahadur aka Raj Bahadur BK, a local resident of Hariharpur VDC in Surkhet district, who had been on the run after killing a tiger named Namobuddha in Bardiya in 2011, was arrested on May 13 from Nepal-India border in Kanchanpur district. 

The same night, Sher Bahadur Lama, 57, a key middleman involved in illegal trade of tiger skin and body parts in Nepal and India, was arrested by the CIB from Nepalgunj. Lama who was convicted of killing tigers in Bardiya and Pilibhit National Park in India, however, hanged self to death on the morning of May 14 while in custody. 

Acting on intelligence reports provided by the CIB, the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation (MOFSC) on May 13 directed the line agencies and departments, including the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) and Department of Forests, to mobilise security personnel and concerned stakeholders to carry out urgent measures to stop poaching and illegal trade of tigers and other wildlife. 

In the last one year, between January 2015 and March 2016, at least 14 tigers have been killed in Nepal. Banjaras from India and locals were involved in the killings.

The last tiger census in 2013 put the number of wild tigers in the country at 198, an increase in the population by 63 percent from the last census in 2009. But poaching continues to remain a great risk for tigers in the country. In Bardiya, 50 wild tigers were counted during the 2013 census. The number was 18 during the 2009 survey.

 “Political instability in the country has contributed to the rise in tiger poaching in West Nepal,” said Maheshwar Dhakal, deputy director general at the DNPWC. According to him, the government is at the final stage of formulating Tiger Action Plan that focuses on strategies and measures to protect tigers from poaching and illegal trade.

tigers under pressure

  •  In the last one year, between January 2015 and March 2016, at least 14 tigers have been killed in Nepal
  •  Banjaras from India and locals have been found involved in the killings
  •  Though tiger population has shown a steady growth in the country, with last tiger census in 2013 putting the number at 198, poaching continues to remain a major threat to the endangered species
  •  During the 2013 census, 50 wild tigers were counted in Bardiya where the Indian 
  • tribal groups, infamous for poaching endangered 
  • animals, are said to have entered in recent months

Published: 18-05-2016 08:31

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