After elephants, endangered dolphin killed in Nepal

June 24th, 2008 - 2:44 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, June 24 (IANS) Even as animal rights activists stepped up their campaign to stop the killing of elephants on the India-Nepal border, villagers in eastern Nepal killed a Gangetic dolphin - an endangered species of which less than 300 are said to be left in Asia. The 6-feet 9-inch mammal was brutally stoned to death after villagers spotted it in the Lohondra lake in Morang district Monday. Police stopped the villagers from hacking at the body for meat, said Inspector Vidyanand Majhi.

The Gangetic dolphin is among the 27 endangered mammals in the world and about 300 of them are said to be found in the Kosi, Karnali and Babai rivers of Nepal.

As per Nepal’s wildlife preservation laws, the killing of an endangered animal is punishable with a fine of up to NRs 150,000 or a maximum jail term of 15 years or both.

The report of the dolphin’s killing came even as India’s People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) urged the prime ministers of Nepal and India as well as the forest ministers of the two countries to rein in security forces at the border, who have reportedly been instrumental in the killing of two elephants in less than a week.

On Sunday, a female elephant died after being shot, allegedly by Nepal police in the eastern district of Jhapa.

The slaying came two days after an elephant cub was electrocuted when it rammed into an electrified border fence after being frightened by Nepali security forces who opened fire to stop its herd from crossing over the border from India.

Asian elephants are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 as well as the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species, to which Nepal is a signatory.

This is PETA’s second letter to Nepali Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Forests and Soil Conservation Minister Matrika Prasad Yadav. The earlier one, sent after the electrocution of the elephant cub, has not produced any immediate results.

Koirala remains locked in a vicious power struggle with the Maoists, who are pushing for his resignation by Wednesday.

If the octogenarian leader fails to quit, the Maoists, whose ministers tendered their resignation last week, have threatened to start a fresh protest movement.

Besides the political turmoil, Nepal is also gripped by a fuel and transport crisis.

Fuel dealers have padlocked gas stations across the country since Monday, demanding improvement in the supply of petro-products from India.

Transport entrepreneurs, on the other hand, have called a transport strike since Saturday, demanding a 35 percent hike in fares to offset the recent rise in fuel prices.

Since Monday, the strike spread nationwide from Kathmandu valley, throwing life out of gear.

Taking advantage of the interim government’s inability to reach a consensus on power-sharing, poaching has become rampant in Nepal’s national parks, causing a spurt in the killing of the one-horned rhino, another endangered species, the tiger, deer and red panda.

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