Kathmandu, December 1:
Officials of the Central Zoo, where a pangolin rescued from a taxi driver in Balkhu on Wednesday was kept for conservation, said on Thursday that the mammal has died.
Volunteers of the Wildlife Conservation Nepal and District Forestry Office had rescued the animal from Kiran Syangtang Lama, 25, of Hetauda.
"Our men saw the man walking with the mammal in a bag and caught him. He was probably trying to take it to the client," said Chandra Man Dangol, the assistant forest officer at the Thankot Area Forest Office.
The scaly mammal, which is found in Nepal and South East Asia, is in the protected list of 27 mammals in the country.
Traditional healers use its scales for medicinal purposes and as pendants, believing that they protect the people wearing them from evil spirits.
Lama was seen with a friend and a client in a taxi, Dangol said, adding the two fled from the scene.
"The mammal was found alive, but was suffering due to rough handling and consumption of contaminated food. Pangolins roam in jungles. Since the animal was in wrong hands for over a week, it suffered severely," he said.
According to Dangol, since the animal is included in the "protected animal's list", the one who caught it can be slapped a penalty of Rs 100,000 and imprisoned for 15 years.
Lama, the convicted taxi driver in handcuffs, said he bought the animal from one Prem Bahadur Thokar for Rs 5,000 "without any concrete idea".
"I came in contact with Thokar, who said he had brought the animal from Phaparbari of Makawanpur and had kept it in Chapagaon for a week. I kept the animal for three days," he said.
During three days, the animal drank water and ate nothing, he said.