Kathmandu, July 20 - Security personnel deployed in Royal National Chitwan Park have arrested three smugglers including leader Pemba Lama alias Yakche who were involved in illegal trade of rhino horn, Tuesday.
All three were arrested a month ago in Chitwan and were made public only yesterday after necessary investigations, reported our correspondent, quoting security forces.
Police suspect Lama is the top gun involved in illegal trade of rhino horn.
Lama, hailing from Kathmandu, confessed he has sold at least 20 rhino horns to businessmen from Tibet. He has reportedly collected assets worth over Rs.250 million by smuggling rhino horn.
“Lama was found to be the most dangerous rhino horn smuggler from the investigation,” said Kamaljung Kunwar, assistant conservation officer at the Royal National Chitwan Park. “This is a big step for us in controlling the poaching of rhinos.”
Twenty-six rhinos died in Chitwan in the fiscal year 2061-62 BS, out of which 15 were killed by the poachers.
Considered the endangered species, rhinos have depleted in number in the national park from 544 to 372 in the past five years. Their population further declined to 360 by the end of May 2005.
Wildlife experts say that poaching has been the greatest threat to rhino population. Poachers kill rhinos for their horn, which has high medicinal value and fetches from around Rs.2.5 million to Rs.4 million per kilogram in the international black market