Nepal authorizes wildlife farming for conservation
By Deepak Gajurel
May 18, 2004 (ENS): Wildlife farming might sound
like a contradiction in terms, but it is the government
of Nepal's new strategy for conserving animal species.
New avenues have been opened for farming, breeding and
research of high value wild species under the government's
new Wildlife Farming, Reproduction and Research Policy.
black buck is one of the species approved
for farming under the new policy.
The government started providing licenses for wildlife
farming immediately after promulgating the policy. Since
the parliament is dissolved and the country is reeling
under political uncertainty, the only option to establish
a law to this effect is by ordinance. After six months
of issuing licenses, the government is now working to
write proper legislation.
"Since we do not have parliament, an Act for this
purpose will be brought through ordinance," said
Narayan Sharma of the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation.
"The ordinance is currently being given a final touch,"
Meanwhile, to facilitate and encourage researchers and
conservationists to undertake wildlife farming, the Department
of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) has
already granted licenses for farming and research of rhesus
monkeys, snakes and vultures. The DNPWC is a government
agency, under the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation,
which looks after protected areas and wild species of
plants and animals.
The protected species that are permitted for farming under
the new policy include the gharial crocodile, Gavialis
gangeticus; the black buck, Antilope cervicapra; Nepal's
national bird the Impeyan pheasant, Lophophorus impejanus;
the crimson horned pheasant, Tragopan satyra; and the
cheer pheasant, Catreus wallichii.
Other species on the list for wildlife farming permits
include the barking deer, spotted deer, sambar, rhesus
monkey, hog deer, wild boar, snakes and all bird species.
Under the new policy, the DNPWC would provide seed animals
for farming and breeding. The permission fee ranges from
5,000 to 40,000 Nepali rupees (US$69 to $555) per animal
depending on the species.
The government's decision on wildlife farming, reproduction
and research policy is in conformity with the Tenth National
Plan, which mentions farming high value wild animals and
The Tenth Plan - a five year plan ending in April 2006
- specifically points out the need to improve the livelihoods
of women, the poor, and disadvantaged groups by conserving
biological diversity through farming of high value wildlife,
and promoting involvement of individuals, groups, nongovernmental
organizations and institutions in wildlife farming, reproduction
The policy sets criteria that the applicants for wildlife
farming must meet before obtaining licenses such as basic
infrastructure, management and technical qualifications
Wildlife experts have welcomed the new initiative. "The
wildlife farming and research policy will help conserve
wild animals. This will also promote various types of
researches for the benefit of human being," says
Dr. Sanat Dhungel, a former DNPWC director general.
Another former director general of the department, Dr.
Udaya Raj Sharma, has a mixed reaction. "We should
use our natural resources for the benefit of our people.
The wildlife farming policy is a positive initiative in
terms of conservation aspects," Sharma says, but
he cautions, "An effective monitoring mechanism should
be in place, otherwise this policy would promote illegal
trade in wildlife."
Monitoring and evaluation are the key to success of the
policy, which stipulates that a regular and effective
monitoring mechanism is essential to ensure that there
is no illegal activity under cover.
"The DNPWC will monitor the farmers and the animals
every six months." says Surya Bahadur Pandey, who
serves as an ecologist and management officer with the
"The policy represents sustainable use of natural
resources, as many countries are doing around the world,"
says Dr. Randall Kyes, head of International Programs
in the Regional Primate Research Center at University
of Washington. The University of Washington is planning
to collaborate with Nepali experts in research on monkeys.
On a research trip to Nepal, Dr. Kyes told ENS, "There
should be a proper and effective mechanism so that there
is no negative impact on natural populations."
Primatologist Dr. Mukesh Chalise, who is president of
the Nepal Biodiversity Conservation Society and is a professor
at Tribhuwan University, has obtained a license for farming
and conducting research on rhesus monkeys. He has started
working on plans to establish infrastructures for research
on this wild species.
"First, we are going to breed the monkeys in captivity,"
said Chalise. "We will start research on monkeys
of first generation (F1 generation) at our research facility."
The research will be conducted with the monkeys bred in
captivity. The Wildlife Farming, Reproduction and Research
Policy prohibits the use in any type of research of any
wild species provided by the government as seed animals.
"This is a good initiative for biomedical research
and any genetic discoveries or findings can be claimed
by Nepal. This will eventually benefit Nepali people,"
says Dr. Kyes.
There are others who find problems with the wildlife farming
policy. "The government is working under policy.
We still do not have any legislation for this," says
legal expert Dr. Rabi Sharma Aryal, who wrote his doctoral
thesis on implementation of the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species in South Asia.
"Going ahead with just a policy in hand might make
the whole endeavor in vain. First we have to have proper
legal framework," said Aryal.
Though there is no controversy over snakes and vultures,
licenses granted for farming and research of rhesus monkey
has drawn protests, some on the ground of cruelty to the
animals and others on religious grounds.
Animals rights activists are campaigning to stop research
on monkeys. They allege that under the cover of research
and farming, Nepali monkeys will be supplied to laboratories
in the United States for biomedical research.
According to some activists, the United States requires
over 14,000 monkeys for research annually.
A petition has been filed with the Ministry of Forests
and Soil Conservation demanding a halt to providing monkeys
for research. The petition, supported by the Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Nepal; the International
Primate Protection League; and People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals, states that "Nepal will not
deserve credit for providing monkeys for biomedical research
by maintaining outdated, unreliable, and unethical methods
for conducting studies."
According to the campaigners, the policy on wildlife farming
should not facilitate breeding and export for biomedical
research of monkeys, or any other animal.
"This is just propaganda by certain vested interests.
Our intention is not to send our monkeys to death but
to use them for human benefits," contends Dr. Chalise.
The government officials do not care about the campaigns.
They do not see anything serious in such campaigns. "We
are still working on the proper legal framework. In addition,
the policy does not allow export or commercial use of
any wild species," says conservation officer Surya
Bahadur Pandey at Department of National Parks and Wildlife
Dr. Dhungel goes further in agreement with the government
move. "We should allow farming and research on any
wild species including one horn rhinos if it benefits
the people and the nation. Our natural resources are not
for the sake of protection. We should make sustainable
use of them for the welfare of human beings," Dhungel
The population of rhesus monkeys in Nepal is abundant,
according to Dr. Chalise. They are not on the government's
protected list but are found in jungles and also in temple
areas, including those in Kathmandu.