Case dismissed, park staff released

Posted on
07 March 2007

Chitwan, Nepal – The government of Nepal decision to withdraw the case against Chitwan National Park’s Chief Warden Tika Ram Adhikari, Assistant Warden and team leader of anti-poaching operations Kamal Jung Kunwar, and ranger Ritesh Bhushan Basnet for the alleged murder of Shikha Ram Chaudhari, suspected of being a poacher and illegal wildlife trader, was welcomed in Chitwan on Sunday, 4 March 2007.

Shikha Ram Chaudhari was allegedly killed during interrogation on 4 June 2006, which led to the three park staff being taken into custody. While the chief warden was later released on bail, Kamal Jung and Ritesh Bhusan remained in police custody for over seven months.

The high rate of rhino poaching in Chitwan over the past few months added urgency to lobbying for their release from local communities, buffer zone councils and committees, the local hotel association, conservation organizations, and political parties. They expressed joint dissatisfaction regarding the charges brought against those with a proven track record for conservation and had been lobbying with major political parties and the government for their release.

“WWF welcomes the government’s decision,” said Anil Manandhar, Country Representative of WWF Nepal. “I have every confidence that this move will renew the motivation of park staff and other conservationists to save Nepal’s rhinos and root out illegal wildlife trade. WWF will always be there to support this endeavor in any way we can.”