A latest report released by IUCN says that Myanmar has emerged as the most important route to smuggle rhino horns to China. Cross-border trade into Myanmar has become the primary route for rhino horns from Assam. These horns find their way to China through Kachin and Shan states. The IUCN report particularly described Myanmar’s Shan state as a ‘notorious backdoor wildlife trafficking hub.’
Myanmar favourite route to smuggle rhino horns
‘In 2015, four rhino horns were also seized in the Muse township of Shan state on the Myanmar border with China. In Manipur, India, another rhino horn was seized the same year at the Khudenthabi check point on the Myanmar border. Rhino horns have also been observed for sale in Mong La, another border enclave in Myanmar’s Shan state’ the report said.
The report cited a previous finding according to which most rhino horns from Assam used to earlier move first to Nepal then on to China. At that time, only one-tenth of the traffic crossed the Indo-Myanmar border. But, with Nepalese law enforcement efforts becoming more stringent in recent years, the route has changed, it said.
Nepal government’s stringent actions
It said a joint operation of Nepalese army and special police in October 2013 dismantled a major rhino poaching network. A major Kathmandu-based trader who allegedly ran a cross-border smuggling enterprise from Nepal to Tibet was also arrested. This gang had reportedly killed 12 rhinos over six years in Nepal. In December 2013, Interpol issued a Red Corner Notice at Nepal’s request for a rhino poacher wanted for killing 15 rhinos in Chitwan National Park. He was sentenced in absentia to 15 years of prison sentence.
Poaching still rampant in Assam
Since 2001, 240 rhinos were killed in Assam by poachers, the report said. However, during the same period, 661 poachers were arrested. But most of these poachers are out on bail. Many have already come out after serving their sentence and have returned to their old path.