Govt move irks animal rights activists

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Feb 5, 2017-

Animal rights activists on Saturday protested against the government’s decision to allow wildlife farming and commercialisation of the wildlife products, arguing that the move would encourage illegal wildlife market. 

Around 100 advocates of wildlife and animal rights representing various national and international organisations, including the Jane Goodall Institute and Humane Society International, participated in a protest rally, demanding that the government repeal the wildlife farming legislation approved by Parliament on January 30.

The wildlife farming legislation allows commercial wildlife farming and sale of the products from wildlife and their body parts by individual firms and institutions that have acquired licenses from the concerned authority. 

“This is an attempt to legalise wildlife trade market and benefit a certain population,” said Kamal Jung Kunwar, chief conservation officer at the Shivapuri-Nagarjun National Park. 

“Despite the legislative controls, poor regulation and enforcement compounded with the high scale of illegal trade of various wildlife species for different purposes via Nepal makes the wildlife farming an ineffective conservation tool in our context,” 

he said. 

Giving an example of the antelopes and deer, which are likely to be considered for commercial farming by the government under the provision, Kunwar said that these wildlife are prey species for endangered tigers, and allowing commercial farming will only threaten the wild population as it will be easy for the traders to exploit wild animals as farmed animal. 

The newly endorsed amendment act to the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1978 provisions wild animal farming, breeding and research policy to allow commercialisation of the “viable” wild animal species through individual firms or institutions for biodiversity conservation and furthering economic development. 

It further states that the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), the management authority responsible for the wildlife conservation in the country will provide seed 

animals to the individuals 

and firms who meet the required criterion like basic infrastructure, management and technical qualifications and expertise.

“The amendment has opened door to allow the development and operation of the wildlife farms in the country. This will benefit in overall conservation as well as contribute in improving the livelihoods of the people,” said Man Bahadur Khadka, director general at the DNPWC. 

He further said the government is unlikely to allow wildlife farming of endangered, protected and rare wildlife species including tigers and rhinos. Khadka gave an example of Namibia, stating that wildlife farming has helped to revive the dwindling wildlife population and improve the livelihoods of the local communities significantly. 

There has been a growing concern as wildlife farms remain a hotly debated issue among conservationists and animal welfare rights activists who say it is not a viable solution to conservation. A report prepared by the Wildlife Conservation Society and Vietnam Forest Protection Department in 2008 about commercial wildlife farm in Vietnam gave examples of China where more than 350,000 sika deer (Cervus nippon) can be found in wildlife farms, yet the population in the wild is currently 

under serious threat from hunting with less than 1,000 remaining. 

Similarly, another example from China and Vietnam stated that despite over 10,000 bears in bile farms in China and Vietnam there are frequent confiscations of bear gall bladders indicating a trade in wild parts still flourishes, the report stated. 

In addition to the protest rally, the animal campaigners demanded that the government revoke the decision to allow the wildlife breeding and commercial farming and launched a petition campaign. 

In the petition now signed by over 2,500 people, the campaigners have mentioned that by “reforming our Wildlife Protection Act, you are playing directly into the hands of the poachers and traffickers, inviting them to exploit the blurred line between ‘wild’ and ‘farmed’ animal.” 

“This provision to allow wildlife farming opens up the possibilities of fur farms, bile farms, circuses, mini zoos, meat farm, slaughter houses and experiments on animals,” said Shristi Singh Shrestha, one of the campaigners associated with the Animal Nepal. 

Published: 05-02-2017 08:24

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