Trophy Hunting in Nepal

What is Trophy Hunting?

Trophy hunting or sport hunting is hunting of wild game for human recreation. The trophy is the animal or part of the animal kept, and usually displayed, to represent the success of the hunt. The game sought is typically a large or impressively ornamented male, such as one having large horns or antlers. Generally, only parts of the animal are kept as a trophies (usually the head, skin, horns or antlers) and the carcass itself is used for food. Trophies are often displayed in the hunter’s home or office, and often in specially designed “trophy rooms”, sometimes called “game rooms” or “gun rooms”, in which the hunter’s weaponry is displayed as well. 

Trophy hunting has both firm supporters and strong opponents. Debates surrounding trophy hunting centrally concern not only the question of the morality of recreational hunting and supposed conservation efforts of big-game and ranch hunting, but also the observed decline in animal species that are targets for trophy hunting. [Cited from Wikipedia]

Is Trophy Hunting allowed in Nepal?

Today there is a strict conservation law in Nepal and hunting is almost banned by law. One may be surprised but it is also true that lawful hunting of wild animals is allowed within a reserve in Nepal.

Yes, a trophy hunting is allowed in Nepal as per the procedure prescribed under National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 2029 (1973). The GoN has been allowing hunters to trophy hunt two species in Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve that spreads over Rukum, Myagdi and Baglung districts. Himalayan Blue Sheep (Naur) and Himalayan Tahr (Jharal) with thriving population are allowed to be hunted. Hunting Reserve means an area set aside for the management of wildlife for allowing hunters to hunt them. Nepal is also a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Unless license/permission is obtained, any wildlife in National Parks / Wildlife Reserve or any species listed in Schedule 1 of the National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act, 2029 of Nepal are not allowed to be hunted. However, a rogue wild elephant, a man-eater tiger and wildlife that suffers from disease or have become disabled and may not survive, may be killed or captured on the order of the prescribed officer. In case it is deemed necessary to kill wildlife, which come out of the forested area and cause considerable loss to human beings or to domestic birds and animals, they may be killed, captured or chased on the order of the prescribed officer.

Introduction to Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve

Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve is the only hunting reserve in Nepal. Established in 1987 it covers an area of 1,325 km2 (512 sq mi) in the Dhaulagiri Himal of western Nepal in the Rukum, Myagdi and Baglung Districts. In altitude it ranges from 2,850 to 5,500 m (9,350 to 18,040 ft).

The landscape consists of forests, marshland (called ḍhor), and flat meadows (called pāṭan). The higher elevations remain snow-covered throughout the year. 58 vascular plants have been recorded in the reserve. Flowering plants include 36 endemic species. 18 mammal species include snow leopard, musk deer, red panda, and blue sheep. 137 bird species include koklass pheasant, cheer pheasant, and impeyan pheasant; and two reptile species also occur. [Cited from Wikipedia]

How does Trophy Hunting work in Nepal?

Selecting Hunting Adventure Company

There are few Outfitter Companies involved providing guide in Game Hunt inside Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve. They are headed by professional hunters.  

  1. Nepal Wildlife Adventure: Shova Shingh
  2. Himalayan Safaris: Mahesh Basnet
  3. Tracks and Trails: Dipak Shumser JBR
  4. Nepal Wildlife Safaris: Amrit Thapa
  5. Global Safaris Nepal: Shumser Parajuli
  6. Open Nepal Wildlife Safari and Trek: Lanka Bahadur Tamang

Link to a Dhorpatan Hunting Itinerary.  

Import of Weapon by the Hunter

Machine Guns and Canons are not allowed to be imported by person other than GoN into Nepal. GoN, Ministry of Home Affiars issue the arm & ammunition license in application of facilitator in advance. Such process should be made before the actual shipping of weapon into Nepal. Many Airline (Qatar Airways, Jet Airways, Korean Air, Etihad Air, Gulf Air, Thai Air) allow to carry weapons as per their prescribed policy. 

Obtaining Hunting License

Prospective hunters, have to go through different levels of procedure of e-bidding before getting a hunting license. 

The prescribed officer shall determine the annual quota of wildlife that may be hunted inside the hunting reserve in a year on the basis of wildlife censuses conducted from time to time. The prescribed officer may refuse to issue such license under with or without giving any reason. Government of Nepal may, if it deems necessary, cancel the license issued at any time with or without giving any reason.

Though anybody can bid for hunting, most hunters come to Dhorpatan Reserve from Europe. Competition in the e-bidding bidding price is the main factor. Most hunters come in Nepal from USA, Spain, Russia and Germany. Nepalis rarely win the bidding as it is relatively expensive. 

The average cost involved for the hunting is as follows: 
1. Hunting License/Permit Fee: Avg. Estimate of USD 2800 per Blue Sheep and Avg. Estimate of USD 1800 per Himalayan Tahr (However, this will be mostly determined by the bid price of the hunters)
2. Local Administration Fees: Avg. Estimate of NPR 100,000 per Hunt
3. Travelling and Guide Fees: Avg. Estimate of NPR 3,000,000 (Helicopter Charter, Professional Guide, Cook, Porters & Game Scout)

Hunters also get pheasant, partridge, barking deer, wild boar in viable populations for hunting. It will be specified as per the permit and variable from time to time. These are not big attraction for hunting because they inhabit on easy terrain unlike Himalayan Tahr and Blue Sheep, which inhabit, perhaps, the worst ground on which it is possible for a large mammal to exist, and it is to this that many sportsmen owe the loss of some of their fortune and time, for these finest trophies.  

Hunting Season and Hunting Block and Hunting Gear

Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve allows trophy hunting in two seasons in a year in Spring (March, April) and in Autumn (October, November). But the hunting permission depends on the population increase of these animals in the reserve. 

There are seven blocks in the Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve.
1. Sundaha, 2. Seng, 3. Dogadi, 4. Gustang, 5. Barse, 6. Fagune, 7. Surtibang

Hunting Gear usually required are: Binocular, Radio Set, Skinning Knife, Rifle Winchester, Comfortable Walking Shoes, Warm Gore Tex Jacket, Windbreaker Pants, Gloves, Sunglass, Warm woollen or Fleece Hats, Thermal Underwear, Few pair woolen shocks, Sunglass, Sun lotion, t shirt etc.

Mobilization of Conservation Officer

The reserve mobilizes a conservation officer with a hunter to see whether he is abiding by the rules.

Hunting Rules

The hunters are provided a guidance on hunting rules with their hunting license. Some of them are: 
1. No hunting of female wildlife or younglings
2. No hunting when the animal is drinking water
3. No helicopters are allowed in the hunting block
4. No automatic weapons allowed to be used for hunt

Collecting Trophies

Trophy (ओखेटोपहार) means the living or dead body of any wildlife or any such part thereof, which can be identified. Only skin and horns are generally allowed to be collected as trophies in game hunt in Nepal. 

Trophy Certificate

Any person who secures a trophy under the license obtained by him shall have to produce it before the licensing authority or the officer designated within the prescribed time. The licensing authority shall maintain records of the trophies produced and hand over the whole body or part of such wildlife to the person who has submitted it before him along with a trophy certificate if the authority is satisfied that the trophy has been secured in accordance with the license. License may also be issued with the condition that whole/part of the wildlife that is hunted should be owned by GoN. GoN may seize any trophy that is possessed without obtaining a certificate.

Trophy Trade

No person shall be permitted to sell or supply trophy, or hand over his title in any manner or conduct trade in trophy without obtaining a permission from the prescribed authority.

Trophy Export

Person interested to export any trophy from Nepal or import in accordance with the prevailing Nepalese law shall obtain a written recommendation of GoN.

Killing Wildlife in Self Defence

To save one’s own life or any other person’s life or domestic animal from the actual and sudden attack of any wildlife, and when one is left with no option but to use arms or take any other measures against such wildlife, he may act accordingly. If any wildlife is killed or wounded in such action, it shall not be considered a crime of killing wildlife. In such case, notice shall have to be given to the prescribed officer within 24 hours of such action excluding the time required for journey. However, such privilege shall not be shall not be available to the persons, who has been acting in contravention wildlife conservation laid under National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 2029 (1973).  

Some magnificent events of Game Hunt in Nepal

In 1893, Prime Minister Bir Shamsher herded 415 animals into an enclosure for Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and the British resident in Kathmandu, who bagged 18 tigers and dozens of rhinos and other animals. Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria Hungary (whose assassination later triggered World War I) is believed to have made 300,000 game kills in his lifetime. 

Madan Shumsher JBR posing with his gun and foot on the hunted crocodile

Madan Shumsher JBR on elephant’s back and Karna Bikram with the gun on the ground

King George V on a tiger hunt in Nepal. In just one safari to Chitwan in 1911, King George V and his son Edward VIII killed 39 tigers and 18 rhinos.

King Edward VIII and his entourage with a dead tiger in Nepal

A tiger hunt in Nepal in 1961, which was attended by Queen Elizabeth II (not seen), with King Mahendra

1960: Queen Ratna Rajya Lakshmi Devi with a tiger she shot in a game hunt in the jungle. 

Madan Shumsher, Karna Bikram and others with hunted crocodile. 

In 1973, King Birendra pushed for Chitwan to be turned into a national park. After malaria eradication peasants from the hills moved to Chitwan and cleared the jungle to make space for farmland. As a result, poaching increased. But animal numbers which had started to decline rose again when the Royal Nepal Army guarded the national park.