Nepal destroys largest-ever wildlife stockpile to discourage illegal trade

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CHITWAN, Nepal (Xinhua) — For the first time in 20 years, Nepal has destroyed a huge stockpile of wildlife and animal parts including prized trophies such as horns from endangered one-horned rhinos, royal Bengal tiger parts and tusks from elephants.

The ceremony took place in the playground near the headquarters of the country’s oldest Chitwan National Park, located some 150 km from the capital city and a happy home to more than 600 rhinos.

Nepal set ablaze over 4,000 animal body parts collected from 48 different species from across the country, over the past two decades.

The ceremony marked the biggest wildlife stockpile burn in the history of this small South Asian nation, which coincided with International Day for Biological Diversity on Monday.

The burning of the stockpile comes at a time when the population of endangered species is increasing in Nepal, but is equally facing the ongoing threats of poaching, illegal trade and trafficking.

Three Nepalese ministers including foreign affairs, forest and soil conservation, science and environment were in attendance at the ceremony, along with conservation activists, and wildlife luminaries presided over the historic torching to affirm the country’s commitment to promoting wildlife conservation and to eradicate wildlife crimes.

“With this event, we want to share with the whole world that Nepal is committed to wildlife conservation. We believe that animals also deserve to live as humans and should only die naturally,” Prakash Sharan Mahat, Nepal’s foreign minister, told Xinhua after the torching of the stockpiles.

The wildlife trophies collected comprised both mortal remains from the animals’ natural deaths and remains confiscated from poaching and trafficking from various protected areas of the country.

The ceremonial incineration is being regarded as a symbolic gesture providing the powerful message that wildlife species shall never be traded and there will be no human threats to iconic species.

The burning practice involved the stockpile, including horns, skins, bones, fur and skulls, being placed on a 15-meter-long brick platform supported by iron rods and plates in the base. A large number of Nepal Army personnel were engaged in the transfer of the animal parts from sealed plastic sacks to the burning platform.

Meanwhile, Nepal has yet to destroy the ivory from elephants, which weighs 1,100 kilograms. In the absence of expertise and modern furnaces, the ivory will be protected until the next burning date, which might take another few years.