INTERPOL Red Notice Issued for Nepalese Rhino Horn Trafficker Rajkumar Praja

An INTERPOL Red Notice has been issued for Nepalese rhino horn trafficker Rajkumar Praja. Images via INTERPOL
An INTERPOL Red Notice has been issued for Nepalese rhino horn trafficker Rajkumar Praja. Images via INTERPOL

A Red Notice has been issued by INTERPOL for Rajkumar Praja, a Nepalese national wanted for killing rhinos and international rhino horn trading.

Rajkumar Praja was convicted in absentia and sentenced to 15 years in prison, after Nepalese authorities dismantled a rhino horn trafficking network earlier this year.

INTERPOL’s Environmental Security unit welcomes Nepal’s Red Notice request as further evidence of the country’s ongoing enforcement efforts, which have resulted in increased arrests — and convictions. In 2011, Nepal went an entire calendar year without a single rhino being killed for a horn, and since 2012, has lost just one rhino to the illegal rhino horn trade.

David Higgins, head of the INTERPOL Environmental Security unit, praises Nepal’s global perspective on wildlife crime.

“Given the increasingly international nature of wildlife crime, it is important for countries to look beyond their national borders and develop an international fugitive investigation strategy. With many criminals crossing borders, law enforcement needs to stay one step ahead to successfully address this crime. We would encourage all member countries to make increased use of INTERPOL’s global network in identifying and bringing to justice criminals who seek to profit at the cost of our environment.”

SAWEN’s (South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network) Chief Enforcement Coordinator and Director General of Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Megh Bahadur Pandey, urges international cooperation.

“Wildlife crime is well organized at the transnational level. Collaborative efforts are essential to develop the capacity of the frontline staff to combat this crime. SAWEN Secretariat would like to appeal to all wildlife enforcement networks and international agencies to coordinate in combating wildlife crime.”

On November 13, 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that a reward of up to $1 million is being offered for information leading to the dismantling of the Laos-based Xaysavang Network, headed by Vixay Keosavang. An INTERPOL Red Notice was issued for one of Vixay Keosavang’s associates, Punpitak Peter Chunchom, a Thai national who fled South Africa following his arrest in 2011. Chunchom is linked to South African game farmer Marnus Steyl, and professional hunter Harry Claassens, who were also arrested, but released on bail.

INTERPOL encourages its 190 member countries to prioritize international exchange and expand their use of INTERPOL’s specialized tools including its colour-coded Notices system to investigate, locate and apprehend environmental criminals.




Rhishja Cota-Larson

I am the founder of Annamiticus, and I work as an independent Wildlife Trade and Communication Design Consultant. I have journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. I am a Co-Chair of the SSN Pangolin Working Group. At CITES meetings, I collaborate with colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species. I am a Wildlife Trade and Trafficking Consultant for the upcoming documentary The Price, the host of Behind the Schemes and author of the book Murder, Myths & Medicine. I enjoy desert gardening, herping, reading, designing, and walking with my dogs.