Illegal wildlife trade & Nepal’s Ex-Prime Minister: Petition to the Supreme Court of Nepal

We are sharing this press release (and amazing story!) on behalf of Kumar Paudel, a research associate of Lancaster Environment Centre. You can read more about Kumar’s work with us here.

Kathmandu, Nepal
16 May, 2018

A unique petition, involving a tiger pelt and Nepal’s Ex-Prime Minister, was submitted to Nepal’s honorable Supreme Court today (074-WO-0807).

Conservationist and wildlife trade researcher, Kumar Paudel, Co-Founder of Greenhood Nepal, brought the petition following a chance viewing of something unexpected on national television. He explained that, “As part of my current research, I have interviewed more than 150 people serving criminal sentences for illegally trading of wildlife in Nepal. Coincidentally, I was watching a national broadcast of an interview with our former Prime Minister, Kritinidhi Bista. I was shocked to see that he was prominently displaying a tiger pelt as decorative item in his home.”

Though the law prohibits the ornamental use of endangered species, such as the tiger, the illegal harvest, trade and use of protected wildlife remains a problem across Nepal. It is a punishable crime, with high fines and prison sentences, and hundreds of people have been arrested and imprisoned across Nepal.

tiger pelt

(Ex PM Kritinidhi Bista giving an interview to a National Television at his home, Kathmandu, Nepal, September 2016. Source: Tweet of the interviewer Suman Kharel)

Mr. Paudel stated, “The law should not discriminate, even if it involves high ranking government officials. This is especially important because I have already met many other people who have been arrested and prosecuted for the same acts.” He also expressed concerns that, by featuring protected wildlife parts on national television, the ex-Prime Minister was endorsing the illegal use of protected wildlife, further threatening imperiled species.

To dig deeper, Mr. Paudel reviewed the prevailing rules and regulations, and identified a provision that allows for the use of wildlife parts with a special permission from Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and/or District Forest Office. When the Department confirmed that no such consent had been given, he reached out to the concerned authorities to request legal action, initially on 12 September, 2016, followed multiple enquiries. Mr. Paudel then identified 3 other public instances where the government had failed to prosecute high-profile individuals for crimes related to wildlife trade. Two years on, there has not been any progress.

This compelled Mr. Paudel to bring this petition to the Supreme Court, a case against a number of government departments that demands them to act on these prominent, yet overlooked cases of illegal wildlife use. Mr. Paudel stated, “I feel it is a moral obligation to raise my voice by issuing this petition. I believe that, by turning a deaf ear, the system condones wildlife crime, indicates biased application of the law and demonstrates a lack of unaccountability.”

Knocking on the door of the Supreme Court, Mr. Paudel feels, is the only remaining option to help protect Nepal’s wildlife.