University students in Nepal are urging the government to award life sentences to rhino poachers.
Students from several universities in Nepal gathered last week to demand that the government amend the National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act of 1973 in order to impose life sentences for the crime of rhino poaching.
Kumar Paudel, coordinator of the National Youth Alliance for Rhino Conservation (NYARC), said via The Himalayan Times that the current laws have not been an effective deterrent.
The National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act 1973 has provisioned a punishment of 5 to 15 years for rhino poachers. However, this provision is not enough to discourage the poachers. It’s time we amended the Act and awarded life sentence to the poachers.
Paudel’s organization presented a memorandum to chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Means Chairperson Shanta Chaudhary, calling for the government to subject rhino poachers to harsh punishment.
Chairperson Chaudhary responded by encouraging the students to continue their valuable work and urged them to continue advocating for endangered species conservation.
We will hold consultations with the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation and propose amendment to the existing law.
Strong action by law enforcement stops rhino poachers
Indeed, strong law enforcement action has proven to be effective in Nepal.
Take a look at Bardia National Park. Although rhino poachers claimed the lives of 10 rhinos from 2007 – 2008 (reducing the small population to just 21), there has not been a single poaching incident in Bardia National Park since the capture of an organized rhino poaching gang in May 2008 (pers. comm., July 2010).
Combining lifetime jail sentences, as advocated by NYARC, with a hard line approach by law enforcement could prove to be a very successful deterrent to would-be rhino poachers.
Rhino horn ‘worthless’ as a medicine
Rhino poaching in Nepal, India, and southern Africa has surged alarmingly in recent years, as demand for traditional Chinese medicine “remedies” containing rhino horn are in great demand by consumer markets in China and Vietnam.
Although extensive scientific analysis has proven that rhino horn is worthless as a medicine, cultural myths and superstitions (stemming from early beliefs that the rhinoceros was a unicorn) claim rhino horn is a cure-all for nearly everything from fever to phlegm to devil possession.
Source: The Himalayan Times