Rhino poaching gang smashed in Nepal
WWF has been monitoring the activities of suspected rhino horn traders over the past few months and has been continuously supporting the anti-poaching operations of the Royal Chitwan National Park as well as the wildlife trade monitoring activities of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.
The arrests are a major breakthrough for police and conservationists after poaching reduced Nepal’s rhino population by more than 30 per cent in the last five years.
The "kingpin" of the gang was Pemba Lama Gurung, a major rhino horn trader. When he was arrested he had in his possession a rhino horn and currency worth US$6,300.
"What was most alarming was the claim by the trader that in the past he had already sold 20 horns at $4,250–5,700 a piece," said Callum Rankine, Head of Endangered Species at WWF-UK.
"This remarkable result has come at the end of a long period of continuous investigation by WWF and the authorities. As so often happens in the work of conservation there is a substantial amount of background work done, but the rhinos should be safer now."
According to a recent government census, figures reveal that the population of the endangered greater one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) in Royal Chitwan National Park has dropped from 544 in 2000 to 372 today – a 31 per cent decline in five years.
For further information:
Trishna Gurung, Communications Officer
WWF Nepal Program
Alexandra Hartridge, Press Officer
Tel: +44 1483 413347