Orchid smuggling goes unchecked in Udayapur

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UDAYAPUR, APR 22 – Smuggling of orchid, an endangered species of flower, has gone unchecked in Udayapur district.

Taking advantage of the poor security situation, especially in border areas, smuggling of the rare and beautiful flowering plant to India through various border points is rising in the district.

Both the collection and supply of orchids, which is known for its medicinal value, is illegal as per the existing legal provision of the country. The fragrant flowers are also used in making various kinds of perfumes as well as tea.

Narman Rai, a local of Bansbote, said that orchids are being smuggled in large quantities to India mainly via Sunkoshi.

“Smugglers have managed to lure the locals into collecting orchids and smuggle them to India by offering them money. They have managed to take advantage of the local’s lack of awareness about the rare flower species and why it is important to conserve them,” said Rai.

Likewise, Netra Regmi, a student of Botany,  said the smuggling of the beautiful and precious flower is rampant owing to the lackadaisical security arrangement on the part of authorities and ignorance of the locals regarding the use of flower for medicinal and aesthetic purposes.

“Only few species of orchids are left in the district as many of them have fallen prey to rampant smuggling,” Regmi said.

Meanwhile, Regmi explained that orchids are mostly found 1000 meters above sea level in Udaypur, while in other districts it is usually found at an altitude of 500 meters above sea level.

Locals said that orchids are found in the forest of Nametar, Baraha, Bansbote, Bhutar Saune, Khabu, Siddipur, Chaudandi, Mainamaini, Babala, Limpatar including dozens of VDCs in the distrtict. Earlier, District Forest Office used to allow collection and transportation of orchids.

“However, these days we have prohibited all kinds of collection and transport of the endangered species of flower owing to the rampant smuggling of the flower,” District Forest Officer Kishor Chandra Gautam said.

Apart from Udaypur, the smuggling of orchids is said to be widespread in Makwanpur and Kaski districts as well. Police said locals of those districts are engaged in collecting the flowers and transport them to Kathmandu, from where they are sent to foreign countries. A kg of these flowers that costs Rs. 250 in local market fetches up to Rs. 10,000 in Hong Kong and other Chinese cities where they are used as medicine.