On December 29, 2023, the Sankhuwasabha District Police Office detained two people in possession of 208 kg of pangolin scales destined for China. Reportedly, this is the biggest pangolin scale seizure in Nepal. The officials also seized other residual parts of pangolins. One male and one female local resident of Bhotkhola were arrested. Now, Makalu Barun National Park is conducting further investigation.
Pangolins are the most illegally traded mammals in the world, with more than 100,000 pangolins trafficked every year. There are two species of pangolins in Nepal: Chinese pangolin and Indian pangolin, both of which are protected by the National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act. And, since both species are listed in CITES Appendix I, if proven guilty, the offenders face a fine of up to 10 lakh rupees and up to 15 years in prison.
Experts estimate that 208 kg of pangolin scales must have resulted in the deaths of around 360 critically endangered Chinese pangolins of Nepal. It is unknown at this time if the scales originate from Nepal or somewhere else. However, in both situations, it raises concerns about the state of the illegal wildlife trade in Nepal. There is an urgent need to bolster enforcement against pangolin poaching within the country and the use of Nepal as a transit country.
Greenhood Nepal is working with Nepal’s enforcement agencies and communities to help control the illegal pangolin trade and protect pangolins in their range in Nepal.