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Addressing the challenges of Nepal’s natural environment

Intro

Nepal is honoured to be hosting INTERPOL’s 23rd INTERPOL Asian Regional Conference in our capital this month. My police force is doing everything in its power to make the region’s most prestigious police event productive for the 36 countries which make up INTERPOL’s Asia and South Pacific region.  

INTERPOL is monitoring emerging Asian and South Pacific crime very closely, making sure police forces in the region have the skills and tools they need to respond.

With this in mind, stronger regional police cooperation in wildlife conservation is high on the agenda of this year’s INTERPOL Asian Regional Conference.  

The Nepalese police fights fiercely to protect the country’s greatest wealth: its natural heritage. Nepal is home to many exceptional specimens of nature, including the Royal Bengal tiger, red panda, snow leopard, musk deer, gharial and indigenous rhinoceros. 

We believe that Nepal’s anti-poaching efforts are the most effective in the world. In May we will be celebrating three consecutive years of zero poaching of one of our most protected species: the greater one-horned rhinoceros. We owe this exceptional success to broad-based national support for conservation, from the highest levels of government, military and police, to the people of Nepal who are resolute in their drive to protect their wildlife. 

INTERPOL Kathmandu’s active use of INTERPOL global policing capabilities has helped us address the challenges of our environment, including natural disasters, as witnessed in the aftermath of the earthquake in Nepal last April 2015.

Nepal, INTERPOL’s 100th member country, will be celebrating half a century of membership in September. These have been five decades of privileged access to powerful police services, crime fighting expertise and today, an exclusive network of 190 member countries in five continents.  

I therefore extend a warm welcome to the hundreds of delegates travelling to Kathmandu to attend this important biannual regional police meeting.

Upendra Kant Aryal
Chief of Police, Nepal

The INTERPOL-Nepal partnership

by Deputy Superintendent of Police Basundhara Kadka
Officer in Charge, INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Kathmandu

Nepal will be commemorating shortly the two-year anniversary of its worst natural disaster in 80 years. The earthquakes in April and May 2015 killed more than 8,700, injured more than 22,000 and transformed hundreds of homes, commercial buildings and several world heritage sites into rubble.

As the Officer in Charge (OIC) of the INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau (NCB) in Kathmandu, I was on duty on the day of the April earthquake and throughout its aftermath.

Coordinated emergency action
Our job at the NCB was to coordinate Nepal’s police action in locating and identifying foreigners. An Earthquake Centre was set up with a Foreign Nationals Desk managed by the NCB for data collection and human resources for rescue operations targeting foreigners.

Our work with domestic agencies and the global INTERPOL community helped identify 95 deceased foreign nationals and rescue 167 overseas tourists. 

Unique policing capabilities
Although national emergency response infrastructures were seriously damaged by the earthquakes, Nepal’s Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) authorities were able to turn to the members of INTERPOL’s DVI permanent working group for expert forensic support, as several of them were in Kathmandu providing humanitarian support for France, Germany and Spain.

Another INTERPOL police capability which helped NCB Kathmandu identify foreign victims was the Black Notice system which requests international police cooperation and data to identify a corpse.

Through INTERPOL’s I-24/7 secure global police communications network, and working with its 24-hour Command and Coordination Centre, INTERPOL Kathmandu worked with more than 30 NCBs to obtain ante mortem details on foreign nationals thought to be in Nepal at the time of the earthquakes.

Nepal’s Central Police Forensic Science Laboratory and the Dead Body Management Cell at Tribhuwan University Teaching Hospital helped NCB Kathmandu compare ante mortem data provided by INTERPOLs global police community with forensic post mortem data retrieved from human remains.

INTERPOL support in the aftermath of the earthquakes illustrates how membership of the world’s largest police organization helps small and developing countries like Nepal provide the best level of law enforcement services, no matter the circumstances.

NCB Staff

Staff of the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Kathmandu with OIC Deputy Superintendent of Police Basundhara Kadka (front row, centre)

Nepal’s most wanted wildlife criminal caught in Malaysia via INTERPOL

Nepal’s most wanted wildlife criminal was arrested in Malaysia in 2015 following police cooperation between the INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCBs) in Kathmandu and Kuala Lumpur. 

Notorious wildlife criminal
Nepal’s national police first arrested Rajkumar Praja in 2013 during a sting operation in Chitwan National Park where his gang had killed 20 rhinos. The ringleader of a powerful rhino-poaching network, Praja had escaped capture and fled to Malaysia.  NCB Kathmandu requested the publication of an INTERPOL Red Notice to locate him with a view to arrest and extradition.

International police cooperation
Collaboration between the INTERPOL NCBs in both countries and the INTERPOL Environmental Security Programme soon led to the location of the fugitive in Kuala Lumpur. He was arrested by the Malaysian Police and extradited to Nepal where he is serving a 15-year sentence, the maximum penalty possible for rhino poaching and trading internationally in rhino horns.

Closing ranks on environmental crime
This wildlife crime case illustrates how important it is for countries to look beyond their national borders for international fugitive investigations linked to wildlife crime. INTERPOL’s global network has helped Nepal locate and bring to justice many criminals like Praja who seek to profit at the cost of the environment.  

A resolute NCB
INTERPOL Kathmandu coordinates regular police operations with NCBs both within and beyond the region to detect and ensnare wildlife poachers and illicit traders.  Nepal’s one-horned rhinoceros is a national icon, appearing on the 100 rupee banknote.  Only three rhinos have been poached over the past five years, and not one since May 2014. 

02- Raj Kumar Praja upon arrest in  TIA Kathmandu

Rajkumar Praja upon his arrival in Kathmandu following his arrest and extradition

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Protecting Nepal’s iconic wildlife

by Deputy Superintendent of Police Basundhara Kadka
Officer in Charge, INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Kathmandu (ctd)

The Himalayas sit where the Indian and Eurasian landmasses collide.  Whilst this topography causes natural disasters like the 2015 earthquakes, it is also responsible for a wealth of unique wildlife and ecosystems which Nepal is keen to protect.  Pollution, overharvesting, overfishing, climate change and crime - particularly poaching - have impacted Nepal’s fauna.

To protect Nepal’s diverse endemic species and ecosystems, its government has implemented a permanent conservation programme to promote community participation and awareness.  

Although the involvement of the people of Nepal in protecting wildlife is key to our national wildlife conservation successes, the only way to stop wildlife smuggling beyond Nepal’s borders is through strong cross-border police cooperation.  

NCB Kathmandu is Nepal’s gateway to wildlife investigations and specialized police units in the Himalayan region and beyond.  This outreach has been key to its wildlife protection efforts.

With the support of INTERPOL experts in Lyon and Singapore, NCB Kathmandu meets regularly with regional police to develop our ability to collectively identify and tackle organized wildlife crime on the ground. 

This has enabled Nepalese authorities to investigate regional poaching groups, arrest their members and carry out species-based operations to curb the trade of iconic species (Operation Tiger, Operation Ring, Operation Flora and Operation Wild Eagle.)

INTERPOL training programmes tailored to our specific needs have also boosted our ability to dismantle a number of the organized crime networks behind regional wildlife crime. This is important for national security as wildlife crime networks are often also engaged in other crimes such as the trafficking of drugs and other illicit goods.  

With the population of several endangered wildlife species on the rise in Nepal, countries the world over are turning to us for inspiration. INTERPOL membership, and the access it gives to worldwide police expertise and support, has been influential in Nepal’s success at tackling environmental crime

23rd INTERPOL Asian Regional Conference

An agenda tailored to regional policing needs

INTERPOL and Nepal are long-standing partners in the fight against international crime.  We are proud to bring Asia’s senior law enforcement stakeholders together at the heart of the Himalayas.

Stronger regional police cooperation in wildlife conservation is high on the agenda of this year’s INTERPOL Asian regional conference. A dedicated panel will examine contemporary criminal threats to the environment, assess the extent of organized crime involvement and identify innovative methods for overcoming them. 

Other regional crime challenges which conference delegates will examine from a global standpoint include drug trafficking, human trafficking, e-gambling, terrorism, cyber and financial crime.

Nepal is looking forward to bringing together senior regional police experts from the region to share investigative experiences and together identify ways to address 21st century law enforcement challenges in ways best suited to our specific law enforcement needs and capabilities.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Basundhara Kadka
OIC INTERPOL Kathmandu

Countries which make up INTERPOL’s Asia and South Pacific region:

Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua    New Guinea,  Philippines, Samoa, Singapore,
Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor Leste, Turkmenistan, Tonga, Uzbekistan, Vietnam.

The region also comprises three sub-bureaus: Macao (China), Hong Kong (China), and American Samoa (USA).

01- IGP Upendra Kant Aryal's   photo

Upendra Kant Aryal has headed INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau in Kathmandu since his appointment as Nepal’s 25th Police Chief in November 2013.

With nearly 30 years of police service, the 55-year-old human rights advocate is helping drive the transformation of the Nepal Police into a modern, accountable and effective police service adapted to 21st century challenges.

Kadka1

When a natural disaster occurs, and a country’s infrastructures are paralyzed by destruction, a coordinated effort by the international community is required for the victim recovery and identification process.

The role of the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Kathmandu was central to operations in the aftermath of the earthquakes in 2015.

The INTERPOL platform and network enabled us to connect families in other countries with their loved, injured and even deceased ones in Nepal.

INTERPOL support in the aftermath of the earthquake illustrates how being a member of the world’s global police organization is crucial to Nepal’s provision of a comprehensive range of law enforcement services, not just in our day-to-day police work but also in cases of severe emergency.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Basundhara Kadka, Officer in Charge, INTERPOL National Central Bureau, Kathmandu.

Increasing the population of protected species is a key objective for any country, all the more so when organized poaching networks are very active throughout the region.  

Nepal’s anti-poaching efforts aim to be among the most effective in the world.  Through habitat management and a species specific conservation action plan, the population status of many of our protected species have increased over the past decade: 

Rhinoceros: 645 in 2016 (409 in 2005)
Gharial Crocodile: 198 in 2016 (81 in 2008)
Royal Bengal Tiger: 198 in 2013 (121 in 2008)

The Chitwan National Park in central Nepal has increased its rhino numbers by 20 percent in the last five years, from 503 in 2011 to 605 in 2015.

Nearly 100 wild elephants live in the Bardiya National Park today, 10 times more than in the 1990s.  

The numbers of snow leopards is constantly on the rise.

Nepal has 11 national parks, two wildlife reserves and six conservation areas covering almost a quarter of its national territory (23.3 per cent).  Satellite communications technology, enhanced surveillance and more prosecutions linked with international police cooperation have strengthened Nepal’s capacity to protect its wildlife.

With INTERPOL providing countries in the region with access to policing tools tailored to our specific needs, and using intelligence-driven investigations to lead regional operations to dismantle the criminal networks behind environmental crime, NCB Kathmandu strives to play an active role in safeguarding Nepal’s environment and wildlife

Central Investigation Bureau, Nepal Police

03--Investigators-from-CIB,

Officers from Nepal’s Central Investigation Bureau at a crime scene involving a red panda.

04--Measurement-of-seized-l

Central Investigation Bureau staff measure a seized leopard skin.