Animal Law in Nepal

March 30, 2021Lu Shegay


Nepal is a landlocked country located in South Asia. It is inhabited by 88 IUCN-designated threatened species of animals. Endangered species, such as the Bengal tiger, the Red panda, the Asiatic elephant, the Himalayan musk deer, the Wild water buffalo, and the South Asian river dolphin. Nepal is also populated with Critically Endangered species, such as the Gharial, the Bengal florican, and the White-rumped vulture. Nepal has 10 national parks, 3 wildlife reserves, 1 hunting reserve, 3 conservational areas, and 11 buffer zones. 10 wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention.

Farmed animals

There is the Animal Slaughterhouse and Meat Inspection Act that was enacted in 1999 to safeguard the health and welfare of people and to “control adulteration in meat and meat products, and to maintain a reasonable standard of meat by protecting the wholesomeness, quality, and adequacy of meat.” (Preamble)

An animal, according to the Act, means “castrated or castrated goat, sheep, Himalayan goat (Chyangra), pig, wild pig, buffalo, or rabbit which are fit for meat other than a cow, an ox, a bull.” The definition also includes poultry, ducks, pigeon, or other species of birds that are raised and kept for meat purposes. (Section 2)

The Act requires obtaining a license to operate a slaughterhouse or sale of meat. The Government of Nepal can also appoint a person to be the Slaughterhouse Meat Inspector - the person should be at least a graduate in veterinary science. (Section 6)

Before slaughter animals shall be examined (antemortem examination) at the slaughterhouse. Diseased animals may not be allowed to be slaughtered. Animals shall be slaughtered at the slaughterhouse, however, if there no slaughterhouse in any area, animals shall be slaughtered in a place specified by the Meat Supervisor. (Section 9)

Section 11 of the Act provides that the sale of meat of a diseased or dead animal is prohibited, as well as meat with animal skin. Moreover, it is prohibited to sell adulterated meat “made by deceiving the species of animal or by adulterating meat of one species of animal with other species of animal.” (Section 13)

Depending on the type of violation, a person may be penalized with a fine up to NPR 5000 (USD 43) for the first time and NPR 10 000 (USD 86) or imprisonment for up to 1 month, or both from the second time and onwards for each offense. In certain cases, the person might be liable with a fine up to NPR 20 000 (USD 172) or imprisonment for up to 3 months, or both from the second time and onward for each offense.

"File:Himalayan Buck alias Musk Deer at Gangotri National Park, Uttarakhand 05.jpg" by Surajit Das is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Working animals

Nepal enacted the Animal Welfare Directive, which applies only to pack and traction animals used for transportation, commercial agriculture, trade, etc. This Directive basically applies only to working animals. The Directive defines animal welfare as the act that would ensure animals with certain requirements, i.e, animals shall have “freedom from hunger, thirst, and malnutrition; freedom from fear and distress; freedom from physical and thermal discomfort; freedom from pain, injury, and disease; and freedom to express normal patterns of behavior.” Working animals are animals “used for transporting goods or people in agriculture, industry or other business purposes with commercial motive: horse, donkey, mule, mountain cow, oxen, buffalo, yak, sheep, goat, mountain goat, and elephant of all ages and sex.”

The Directive provides that it is not allowed to load animals with a weight that exceeds 40% of their body weight. In the case of young, elderly, and pregnant animals, the load should be considered carefully and decreased accordingly. It also provides that work shall be immediately stopped if the animal shows any “symptoms of inability to carry weight or work.” (Section 8)

With regard to feeding a working animal, the Directive states that the feeding must be balanced, nutritious, and adequate with more details in its Annex 1. For instance, the daily feed for a horse or a mule should be 4 kg (8.8 lbs); 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs) for a donkey; 3 kg (6.6 lbs) for an ox, buffalo, mountain cow, yak; 1 kg (2.2 lbs) for a sheep, mountain goat, goat; and 40 kg (88 lbs) for an elephant. Section 10 of the Directive states that working animals shall be provided with food and water every 3 hours followed by a resting break.

Chapter 3 of the Directive also covers the cruelty provisions. Such acts as “using whiplashes, knife, ax, traps or electric shocks, chili powder or other painful substances to control animals; causing pain, discomfort or wound, by hobbling, tying, or hanging on nose or tail or legs; tying or breaking the tail; killing of a newborn; causing injury using sticks; omission of the obligation to treatment one’s sick animal; castration without following the direction of the Department; and abandonment of working animals” constitute cruelty to working animals. “Removal of horns, health examination, surgery or medical treatment carried out following due procedure by a registered vet or authorized person; capturing or killing (euthanizing), essential to relieving an animal from its misery of incurable disease or immobilizing disability or because of necessity to protect animal health, public health or public safety, conducted in a humane manner as advised by a registered vet or authorized person” are not constituting cruelty to working animals under the Directive.

"File:Vulture pack.jpg" by Ad031259 is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Aquatic animals

Nepalese Aquatic Animal Protection Act defines an aquatic animal as “any animal living in the water.” This definition might be vague because there are such animals that are considered aquatic, although not living in waters all of their time - some animals live near the water and still are recognized as aquatic animals. Water, in accordance with the Act, is “the water of a lake, daha, rill, stream, river, canal, pond, ditch, reservoir, artificial reservoir, wetland, craze installed for aquaculture and paddy field where aquaculture is done and includes their sources.” (Section 2)

The Act prohibits the use of “any kind of electric current, explosive substance or poisonous substance with intention of catching and killing any aquatic animal in any water.”

The Act also contains the provisions with regard to the regulations exercised by the governmental agencies.

Moreover, the Act provides that any person building a dyke for “electricity, water supply, irrigation or any other purpose shall build a fish ladder to the extent possible so that the movement of aquatic animals is not affected.” If it becomes impossible to build a fish ladder, an authorized body shall provide an “aquatic animal hatchery and aquatic animal nursery in such place or in an area in vicinity thereof for the purpose of having artificial breeding of aquatic animals.” (Section 5B)

Section 8 of the Act provides punishments for violating certain clauses, e.g, Section 3 or 3A. In case of violation, a person shall be penalized with a fine not exceeding NPR 5000 (USD 43), and the compensation equal to the amount in controversy shall also be recovered according to the gravity of the offense, in the event of any loss or damage caused from such violation.

Wild animals

Wild animals in Nepal are protected by the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act. Wildlife in the Act is defined as “mammals, birds, reptiles, pieces, amphibians, and insects of any kind other than domesticated and this term also includes the eggs of Oviparous creatures.” In the national park, it is prohibited without written permission to hunt wildlife; graze any domestic animal or bird, feed or water them, etc. (Section 5) The Act lists certain species of animals in its Schedule-1 and it is prohibited to hunt those species. (Section 10) It is also not allowed to hunt wildlife without an appropriate license. (Section 11)

A person who illegally kills, injures, sells, purchases, transfers, or obtains “rhinoceros, tiger, elephant, musk deer, clouded leopard, snow leopard, or bison, or keeps, purchases, or sells rhinoceros horn or musk-pods or the fur of snow leopard, as well as trophies of any other protected wildlife”, is punished with a fine NPR 50-100 (USD 0.42-0.85) or imprisonment 5-15 years, or both. A person hunting or killing, or injuring wildlife “other than birds and fish inside a national park, strict nature reserve or wildlife reserve without obtaining a license” is penalized with a fine NPR 1000-10 000 (USD 8.5-85), or imprisonment 6 months-2 years, or both. A person who hunts and kills or injures protected birds is punished with a fine NPR 500-10 000 (USD 4-85), or imprisonment 3 months-2 years, or both. (Section 26)

Criminal offenses

The Penal Code of Nepal criminalizes certain acts with regard to animals. With that being said, it is prohibited to treat animals and birds recklessly, in particular, “knowingly or recklessly omit to take such precautionary measure with that animal or bird as is necessary to guard against or prevent any probable danger to cause the death of or grievous hurt to anyone from such act or from such animal or bird.” Such acts are penalized with a sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding 1 year or a fine no more than NPR 10 000 (USD 86), or both.

The Code also prohibits sexual intercourse with an animal. (Section 227) Violating this provision results in the imprisonment of no more than 2 years and a fine not exceeding NPR 20 000 (USD 172) in case if the person entered into sexual intercourse with a cow. In other cases (other animals), the penalty is imprisonment of no more than 1 year and a fine not exceeding NPR 10 000 (USD 86).

Chapter 27 of the Code is dedicated to the offenses against animals and birds. It is not allowed to act with the intention to kill or causing hurt to any cow or ox. (Section 289) It is also prohibited to torture any animal or bird by beating, hitting, or causing to carry a load beyond the animal’s capacity, etc. (Section 290)

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