Rhinos are among the most endangered animals on the planet with several species on the brink of extinction -- but that wasn't enough to stop one poacher in Nepal from killing over 15 of them for his personal gain. The World Wildlife Fund for Nature described Kajiman Praja as the deadliest rhino poachers of the time for his violent exploits. Along with four family members, Praja accrued a small fortune murdering rhinos and selling their horns on the black market in Asia. Recently, however, after years of eluding arrest, Praja and his gang have finally been nabbed.According to a report from The Republica, Praja is responsible for poaching 16 one-horned rhinos in Nepal's Chitwan National Park in the last six years alone -- made all the more troubling by the fact that a mere 378 of the animals are believed to be left in the entire country. On the black market, rhino horns are valued around $14,000 due to the traditional belief that they hold some medicinal qualities. In reality, they are mostly made of keratin, not unlike human fingernails.
Working on a tip from WWF, who had previously placed Praja at the top of their list of most dangerous poachers, Nepalese Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) apprehended Praja, his sister, sister-in-law, and two wives.
The Republica continues:
The arrest of Parja, who hails from the backward Chepang community that chiefly resides in the periphery of the park, which is home to most of the country´s one-horned rhinos, has raised hopes among conservationists and served a major blow to poachers.
"We are very happy that CIB has nabbed a kingpin who single-handedly rendered conservation efforts ineffective," said Diwakar Chapagain, the country director of WWF.
Cheif CIB operative, Rajendra Singh Bhandari, says that stopping Praja's poaching ring is the first step a multiphase plan to mitigate the practice. "Now we will look into the arteries of wildlife crimes that portray Nepal as a major transit in the world," he says. "We see that our investigation into wildlife crimes could reveal their linkages to other organized criminal rings that thrive on smuggling."
Praja and his gang face a maximum of fifteen years in prison if convicted.
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