In Nepal, Publicly Burning Confiscated Items Is a Warning to the Illegal Wildlife Trade - Pacific Standard

In Nepal, Publicly Burning Confiscated Items Is a Warning to the Illegal Wildlife Trade

The stockpile included parts from 48 species, including 67 tiger skins, 357 rhino horns, and two sacks of pangolin scales.
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Smoke billowing out from the Kalabari forest in Nepal.

Smoke billowing out from the Kalabari forest in Nepal.

On Monday, the Nepalese government set fire to more than 4,000 items of confiscated wildlife parts in an attempt to demonstrate zero tolerance for the illegal wildlife trade.

The stockpile included parts from 48 species, including 67 tiger skins, 418 common leopard skins, 354 elephant tails, 15 bear gallbladders, 357 rhino horns, two sacks of pangolin scales, and hides from red panda, clouded leopard, and snow leopard.

All these illegally trafficked items were burned in Chitwan National Park in front of nearly 300 people. Officials hope that the public burning of wildlife parts will act as a deterrent to wildlife traffickers.

"Nepal has achieved a significant milestone in conservation," Man Bahadur Khadka, director general of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, said in a statement. "The government of Nepal expresses its commitment to zero poaching and a non-tolerance towards wildlife crime."

The wildlife parts that were part of the burn on Monday have been collected over the last 20 years, the World Wildlife Fund said. Several items were already in various stages of decay.

Some confiscated wildlife parts did not make it to the burn. These included items retained by the Nepalese government for cases that are still under investigation, as well as parts that might help future scientific studies, WWF said. Elephant tusks were also excluded from the burn because the technology required for crushing the ivory before burning is reportedly unavailable in the country.

The public burning was hosted by Nepal's Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, and Department of Forest Coordinated by international conservation charity, in collaboration with London-based ZSL (Zoological Society of London) and several non-governmental organization (NGO) partners.

"Illegal trade is devastating populations of iconic wildlife in many countries worldwide and sadly Nepal is no exception," Hem Sagar-Baral, Nepal country manager of the Zoological Society London, said in a statement. "ZSL is proud to be working with Nepal's government and other NGO partners to tackle this issue and applaud this bold demonstration of the countrys commitment to the cause."

This story originally appeared at the website of global conservation news service Mongabay.com. Get updates on their stories delivered to your inbox, or follow @Mongabay on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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