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Nepal arrests Indian wildlife criminal

Written by: Staff
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Kathmandu, June 6 (UNI) Hot on the heels of news of tiger poaching in Nepal, a wanted Indian wildlife criminal was arrested in the capital in connection with the international illegal trade in tiger, leopard and other skins, local wildlife group Wildlife Conservation Nepal (WCN) reported.

Authorities at Chitwan National Park had issued a warrant for the arrest of Indian wildlife trader, Jagdish Lodha, believed to be the kingpin of a major network of poachers and dealers operating across India and Nepal. Lodha was captured under citizen's arrest by WCN on June 4 and handed over to Kathmandu Police.

''The capture of Lodha illustrates how vital it is for India and Nepal to exchange enforcement intelligence,'' WCN CEO Prasanna Yonzon said.

''Hailing from the Bawaria community in India he used to bring skins from central and northern India, now he and his gang are targeting our big cats.'' Seven of Lodha's associates were currently behind bars having been caught red-handed with two tiger skins, four leopard skins and 40 kg of tiger bone in two separate incidents in April 2006.

Lodha was believed to be 'managing' 50 families of Bawaria poachers, many of whom were now camping out in Nepal. In the last ten years Lodha was reported to have sold over 30 tiger skins to dealers in Nepal who supply the lucrative markets in Tibet and western China.

His father too was involved in poaching and was arrested following the seizure of iron traps in a wildlife sanctuary in India in November 2005.

Despite the setbacks associated with Nepal's current political situation, enforcement authorities had continued to target these organised networks of criminals, cooperating with WCN who had assisted with the provision of actionable intelligence in a timely manner.

''Building trust, transparency and the will to collaborate on trans-national enforcement is vital in the fight against international wildlife crime, between governments and civil society,'' said Mr Yonzon, who cited information from the Wildlife Protection Society of India regarding Bawaria poachers as key to Lodha's capture.

UNI IP PR KN1600

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