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Nepal’s main wildlife law prohibits the sale, supply, or conduct of trade in wildlife trophies without a license. The sale of meat is also subject to licensing requirements and rules for sanitation and safety, which can be found in Nepal’s animal slaughter and meat inspection law and regulations. There do not appear to be specific laws or rules for the regulation of wildlife markets or wet markets.

I. Wildlife Meat Consumption and Markets in Nepal

Nepal appears to be major source and transit for wildlife trade and trafficking, particularly with respect to the endangered pangolin and its parts.[1] The government of Nepal has conservation action plans for a number of wildlife species. One plan, on pangolins, states that “[t]he Pangolins are under threats mostly due to poaching, illegal trade and loss and degradation of their habitats. The species is highly threatened due to high demand of its skins, scales, and meat in the local and international illegal wildlife trade market.”[2] The plan also states that pangolins are “hunted for local consumption of meat and medicinal purpose[s],”[3] but also that, “[d]ue to high value in international market, hunting for medicinal and consumptive use at local level is already insignificant with almost all poached animals ending in international market [sic].”[4] According to the conservation action plan on pheasants, the “[m]eat of pheasants (especially Kalij Pheasant) is considered a delicacy in Nepal,”[5] and certain species are protected under Nepal’s wildlife protection law.[6] Another plan also notes that “[c]onsumption of red panda meat has been reported from central and western Nepal.”[7]

One paper on illegal hunting of wildlife species in the northern section of Bardia National Park notes that wild meat is sold at ad hoc “highway markets” and some of the meat is being supplied to the capital and regional cities.[8] A news report from 2017 notes that, in certain rural areas like Chainpur, the district headquarters of Bajhang, when winter approaches locals and poachers have started illegally hunting and poaching wild animals for meat. People are buying and selling the meat of “jharal (Himalayan Tahr), ghoral, musk deer, bear, kalij, danphe (lopophorous) among others.” The meat appears to be sold to butchers at the district headquarters.[9]

II. Legal Status

Nepal’s main wildlife protection law is the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 2029 (1973)[10] and its subsidiary rules.[11]  The Act includes a section that stipulates that, subject to certain exceptions, “wildlife mentioned in Schedule-1 of this Act shall be considered as the protected wildlife and their hunting is prohibited.”[12] Section 19(1) prohibits the sale, supply, or conduct of trade in trophies without license:

(1)    No person shall be permitted to sell or supply trophy, or hand over his\her title in any manner or conduct trade in trophy without obtaining a license from the prescribed authority.[13] 

Nepal’s Forest Act also prohibits the unsanctioned sale of “forest products,” which include “[b]irds, wild lives and trophies,” from national forests.[14] There do not appear to be specific provisions addressing wildlife markets in either law. 

The 2003 Working Policy on Wildlife Farming, Breeding and Research allowed for the commercial farming of wild animal species, “including those protected under the law,” including “the farming of common wildlife animals such as wild boar, deer (barking, spotted, hog and samber deer)” and other animals.[15] In 2017, an amendment was made to the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act that allowed “commercial wildlife farming and sale of the products from wildlife and their body parts by individual firms and institutions that have acquired licenses from the concerned authority.”[16] Amended rules to bring the wildlife farming provisions into force were implemented in 2019.[17] Wildlife organizations have criticized the amendment, arguing that it  

risks fuelling the illegal wildlife trade by perpetuating the notion that wild animals, and their parts and derivatives, are commodities for human consumption. The amendment could also create a cover for the trade in wild caught species fraudulently sold as captive-bred. This concern has previously been raised at CITES. Neither CITES nor the Nepal government have mechanisms to distinguish between captive-bred and wild-caught animals, which will make it easy for license holders to flout the rules.[18]

III. Sale of Meat

Nepal’s Animal Slaughterhouse and Meat Inspection Act, 2055 (1999), prohibits the sale of meat without a license.[19] The purpose of the Act is twofold, according to one researcher: “firstly to prevent adulteration and contamination of the meat during and after slaughtering and secondly to ensure slaughter of healthy animals without any disease condition which can make the meat unsafe for human consumption.”[20] Terms and conditions, including rules for sanitation and safety, for licensed meat sellers can be found in the Slaughterhouse and Meat Inspection Regulation, 2057 (2001).[21] Moreover, no sale of meat of any animal other than those mentioned in section 2(1) is allowed. Section 2 of the Act defines “animal” to mean

castrated or castrated goat, sheep, Himalayan goat (Chyangra), pig, wild pig, he buffalo or rabbit the females of buffalo, goat sheep, Himalayan goat, pig, or rabbit which are fit for meat other than a cow, an ox a bull, and this word also includes poultry, ducks, pigeon or other species of beasts and birds kept for meat purpose.[22]

Section 13(1) also prohibits the adulteration of meat, requiring that “[n]o sale of meat shall be made by deceiving the species of animal or by adulterating meat of one species of animal with other species of animal.”[23] Persons in violation of these sections “shall be liable to a fine up to Ten Thousand Rupees for the first time and Twenty Thousand Rupees or an imprisonment up to three months or both from the second time and onwards for each offence.”[24]

One researcher notes that the Act has not been successfully enforced to date, stating that “[t]he government has tried to enforce the act in some of the municipalities of the country by constructing slaughter houses but those slaughter houses were not utilized by the meat enterprisers.”[25]

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Prepared by Tariq Ahmad
Foreign Law Specialist
August 2020

[1] Purushottam Khatri, Pangolin Poaching Up Despite Tight Vigilance, The Rising Nepal (Nov. 8, year unknown),

[2] Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation & Department of Forests, Pangolin Conservation Action Plan for Nepal (2018-2022) Foreword (2018),

[3] Id. at 12.

[4] Id.

[5] Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Pheasant Conservation Action Plan (2019-2023) 33 (2019),

[6] Id. at 32.

[7] Ministry of Forests and Environment, Red Panda Conservation Action Plan for Nepal (2019-2023) 12 (2018),

[8] Babu Ram Bhattarai et al., Illegal Hunting of Prey Species in the Northern Section of Bardia National Park, Nepal: Implications for Carnivore Conservation, 3(4) Environments 32  (2016),

[9] Jagat Khadka, Wildlife Meat Openly Bought and Sold in Bajhang, MyRepublica,

[10] National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 2029 (1973),

[11] National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Rules, 2030 (1974),

[12] National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 2029, § 10.

[13] Id. § 19(1).

[14] Forest Act 2049 (1993), § 49.

[15] Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Nepal: Third National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity (Mar. 2006),

[16] Nepal Move to Allow Wildlife Farming, Commercialisation of Wildlife Products Irks Activists, Kathmandu Post (Feb. 5, 2017),

[17] New Rules Allow Commercial Farming, Reproduction of Wild Animals, The Himalayan (Dec. 22, 2019),

[18] Animal Welfare Groups Urge Nepal to Rethink Amendment to Wildlife Protection Act Allowing Farming of Wildlife, Humane Society International (Feb. 4, 2017),

[19] Animal Slaughterhouse and Meat Inspection Act, 2055 (1999), § 3,

[20] Yadav Sharma Bajagai, Major Issues About the Safety of Meat in Nepal, Food & Environment Blog (2019),

[21] Slaughterhouse and Meat Inspection Regulation, 2057 (2001),

[22] Animal Slaughterhouse and Meat Inspection Act, 2055, § 2.

[23] Id. § 13(1).

[24] Id. § 17(2).

[25] Bajagai, supra note 20.

Last Updated: 12/31/2020