Gopal Bista, a sheep herder from Phaktalung Rural Municipality, has lost four sheep to smuggler traps in the past two months. He has lost 26 other sheep in the same way over the past few years.
“Smugglers set wire traps using sharp wooden spears and wire to cover fallen tree stumps. Sheep are trapped in these wire meshes when grazing in the area,” Bista said. “Most animals die instantly because the sharp spears puncture their vital organs. Some survive with their legs entangled in the wire traps.
“Other animals squeal when trapped so they can be rescued immediately. But sheep don’t cry like other animals,” he added.
According to Bista, several traps were found in Andhapokhari, Selele, Kurlung Bhereni, Charrate, Tawalase and surrounding areas above 4,300 meters above sea level.
Poachers and traffickers of animal body parts set traps in various places in the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area every year to catch musk deer and Himalayan black bears. The smugglers mainly target the musk deer to extract their musk gland and the Himalayan black bear for their gallbladder as well as their skins and other body parts.
A Nepal Army team from Phungling, the headquarters of Taplejung District, destroyed 21 traps at Deuma, Chene, Mauwatar and Tigu among others in Olangchungola of Phaktalung-7 Rural Municipality four years ago. These traps were set between 3,500 and 4,200 above sea level.
Before the Covid-19 epidemic, the army team regularly patrolled the area to look for possible traps and dismantle them. Local people have claimed that smugglers have intensified their activities in the Kanchenjunga conservation area as security personnel and relevant authorities have stopped regularly patrolling the area.
According to a report by the Himali Conservation Forum, a non-profit organization working for red panda conservation, conservationists destroyed 17 traps set up in the Kanchenjunga conservation area in the last fiscal year 2021-22.
“It has become routine for us to collect these traps and destroy them every year. Any animal, whether domesticated or wild, can fall into these traps and die,” said Ramesh Rai, the organization’s program manager. He urged relevant authorities to take strict action against smugglers who set such traps.
Local people and conservationists have time and again raised questions against security agencies and the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area for failing to launch an effective wildlife poaching and smuggling control program. In the region.
The Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, however, says it has made efforts to control such incidents.
“Poaching and wildlife smuggling is a major problem in the region. Searches are ongoing in the Ghunsa area to find the suspects who set the traps,” said Ramesh Yadav, from the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area neighborhood.
Tseten Lama Sherpa, chairman of Phaktalung-7 Rural Municipality, said conservation authorities, security agencies and local people should work hand in hand to control poaching incidents and conserve wildlife in the area. conservation.