3 Indians among 6 arrested for smuggling protected animals in Nepal

3 Indians among 6 arrested for smuggling protected animals in Nepal

Three Indians and a Pakistani were among six people arrested here for allegedly smuggling protected live animals to Nepal from Nigeria, a media report said today.

The Central Investigation Bureau of the Nepal Police arrested three Indians -- Mohammad Usman, 34, Mohammad Faim, 35, and Mohammad Sherif Shahid, 35, the Himalayan Times reported.

Two Nepalese -- Sanjeev Bhari, 40, of Kathmandu and Raj Kumar Tiwari, 42, of Bara -- and Jawaid Aslam Khan, 55, of Pakistan were also arrested, police officials said.

Two chimpanzees, eight monkeys, seven golden pheasants, two ringneck pheasants, 38 pigeons and 65 parrots were seized from the accused after a raid at the house of Bhari in Kathmandu on October 18, said Superintendent of Polcie Jeevan Shrestha, the CIB spokesperson.

The final destination of the apes is believed to be India, he said.

"Preliminary investigation suggests the racketeers would smuggle apes to India from Nigeria by making Nepal their transit," Shrestha said.

He said the apes were brought to Nepal from the African country by air, but officials at the Tribhuvan International Airport here failed to intercept the animal species.

The accused have been handed over to the District Forest Office, Kathmandu, where legal action under National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act will be initiated, while the animals and birds rescued alive have been sent to the Central Zoo.

Anyone involved in the trade of protected species may face a jail term of five to 15 years, and also be slapped with a fine of up to Rs 100,000, the report said.

Indian national Usman is a repeat offender and was arrested with 109 tortoises and 162 birds of different species from Kathmandu in June last year, it said.

Police had raided a house and recovered the reptiles and birds kept in boxes and cages. Officials said the tortoises, which weigh three to five kg each, and the birds, including several varieties of parrots, were smuggled into Nepal from India.

It is believed the seized animals were to be illegally transported to China, where they would end up in restaurants or thriving markets in Vietnam selling animals and birds, according to the report.

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