Repeal the wildlife farming legislation!
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The Parliament of Nepal passed a legislation under National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1973 on 30th January, 2017. The Wildlife farming, breeding and Research has a clause that specifically permits individuals to breed and use wild animals for any reason whatsoever ranging from harvesting organs and body parts, exporting and selling them anywhere, keeping the animals for entertainment, breeding purposes, and even Zoos for educational purposes. It clearly states that any individual, business house or group of people can be issued the licenses who seek to use wild animals for profitable measures. This opens up the possibilities of fur farms, bile farms, circuses, mini zoos, meat farm, slaughter houses, and experiments on animals.
Nepal continues to be a major international transit hub for the illegal wildlife trade and this is possibly the greatest challenge to conserving wildlife in our country. Yet by reforming our Wildlife Protection Act you are playing directly into the hands of the poachers and traffickers, inviting them to exploit the blurred line between “wild” and “farmed” animal. There is no mechanism for CITES or for the Government of Nepal to distinguish between captive-bred and wild-caught individuals. If exporters can produce documents claiming the source to be captive-bred, there is no way to stop them.
Nepal has a poor track record of implementing effective regulatory mechanisms and a history of weakening conservation regulations. The Wildlife Farming, Breeding, and Research Policy 2003 (eventually deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court) facilitated the captive breeding of protected species (CITES Appendix II) such as Rhesus macaques, to supply the US-based National Primate Research Center. Meanwhile, import of exotic species persists through Tribhuvan International Airport, demonstrating continued failure of CITES implementation in Nepal.
Inevitably, wildlife farming will have catastrophic consequences for our wild animal populations and raises considerable ethical concerns. Wild animals, by definition, cannot be farmed. Any attempt to confine wild animals in a farm will inevitably cause immense suffering, disease, and death, and a high number will be deemed surplus or unviable (in the aborted Rhesus macaque farm, 30% of the 300 animals were found to be carry viruses rendering them undesirable by the US facility).
By encouraging the privatization and commercial production of wild animals, your Department is perpetuating the notion that wild animals, their parts and derivatives are commodities for human consumption, and hence encouraging the wildlife trade. Surely, this is not commensurate with the Department’s role to protect and conserve wildlife in its natural habitat. The proposed amendment promotes commercial venture for prospective private, national, or international entities benefitting from the wildlife industry and exotic animal trade, and strongly brings into question the Government’s ethics towards wildlife conservation and the communities dependent upon Nepal’s biodiversity.
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