KATHMANDU, Oct 27 : Birbal Praja, 40, of Korak from Chitwan is serving 15 years of imprisonment since 2006 for his involvement in helping the poachers in smuggling of the rhinos precious horns and assisting in poaching. He earned 3,000-4,000 rupees as incentive every time he helped poachers.
“We hardly earned Rs 100 per day as wage labourer. When we were provided with three to four times more than our daily income, we found it lucrative and without giving a second thought, we helped them,” confessed Birbal.
Another culprit Raj Kumar Praja, 37, of Kalikhola accepted that he had illegally hunted 27 rhinos and traded their horns. As many as 19 cases have been lodged against him. He was held in Malaysia and deported to Nepal three years ago. He left for Malaysia with a fake passport after he was enlisted in the most wanted list of the police.
As per the investigation, Raj Kumar had started smuggling as a porter in 2003 and subsequently became a mastermind. He had killed two rhinos while he was a porter and he poached as many as 25 after he became a main poacher. He sold the horns of as many as 20 rhinos before fleeing to Malaysia. Now, he regrets his criminal acts and is committed to devote his life to social work after serving his jail term.
Inmates who have been doing time in prison for their involvement in poaching rhino and smuggling horns of the endangered species have started repenting their misdeeds. The culprits were handed 15 years’ jail term by the court.
As many as 124 persons have been doing time in District Prison, Bharatpur, for poaching, helping to poach and smuggle hides of rare species in Chitwan. Of them, many are said to be assistants, who were used for carrying luggage, supplying food to poachers and others.
District Prison Bharatpur Jailer Kamal Prasad Kafle said more people are getting involved in poaching and smuggling mainly because of poverty and lack of awareness. “Some of them are ignorant about the dire consequences they have to face for being involved in such crimes,” he added.
Meanwhile, Chitwan National Park Chief Conservation Officer Ram Chandra Kandel said there were more than 100 fugitives accused of poaching and smuggling rhinos.
He pledged to launch effective awareness raising programmes in rural areas to control poaching and smuggling of rare species in the district.
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