International agencies speak out against wildlife gifting

rhino gift

Tethered rhino with caged deer in the background. Possibly part of collection gifted by Chandra Shamsher Rana to King George V. From Public Domain.

London, Hong Kong, Kathmandu, December 22, 2015 – International animal welfare agencies including Born Free and Asia for Animals Coalition have written to the Nepal government to express their concern about the reintroduction of wildlife gifting.

Born Free, whose campaign led India to ban the use of animals as diplomatic gifts in 2005, in a letter to Minister Agni Prasad Sapkota and Director General Fanindra Raj Khanel writes: “”For the sake of the animals, and Nepal’s international reputation, we ask you to please reconsider any plans to begin the practice of wildlife ‘gifting’ or transfers to captive facilities overseas.”

Animal Nepal in November spoke out against the plans to reintroduce wildlife gifting, stating that with concerns for animal welfare high on the international agenda, live diplomatic gifts in this day and age are no longer an appropriate gift.

In its concerned letter Born Free notes: “It is in our opinion that exporting wild animals from range states to captive facilities overseas is ill-conceived, unsustainable and inhumane, and will result in little of no conservation benefit to the species involved.”

The Asia for Animals (AFA) Coalition, a umbrella organisation of fifteen animal welfare agencies,  notes that ‘[m]any of these animals are likely to be destined for zoos in the recipient countries, the standards of which will vary considerably, thus leaving Nepalese animals at risk of living a life of fear and distress, and being managed by staff with inadequate experience and skills to provide for even the animals’’ most basic needs.’

Asia for Animals says ‘Nepal has built its reputation as a nation with a commitment to both habitat and species conservation, with noted successes for tiger, rhino, snow leopard and red panda conservation’. Nepal, according to the coaltion, ‘also receives international praise for its progressive policies and practices in community forestry and national park/area management’.  The re-instatement of ‘wildlife gifting’ has the potential to negatively impact on this reputation, according to AFA.

The letter from Born Free can be downloaded here.

The letter from Asia for Animals Coalition can be downloaded here.

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