By Matthew Lobas
Six notorious tiger poachers have been jailed in Southern India in what is being described as a landmark conviction. The five men and one woman were sentenced to three years each by Karnataka High Court – a sentence made more remarkable by the fact that the conviction rate for tiger poaching in the country is 0.1%.
The gang travelled the country poaching tigers and other wildlife for sale into the international market – tigers would be carved into fur, bones and organs for use as decoration, tonics and medicine.
They were caught red-handed with lethal ‘jaw’ traps in the Bandupur Tiger Reserve, and brought to justice by the Karnataka Forest Department with specialist legal assistance from the Care for the Wild-funded Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) Wildlife Crime Enforcement Team.
Care for the Wild CEO Philip Mansbridge said: “This conviction is a landmark for tiger conservation and sends a powerful message of deterrence to wildlife criminals who aim to poach India’s tigers.
“Our partnership with the WTI is instrumental in a huge number of cases per year alongside de-snaring and undercover enforcement activities. The team also work with government forest staff to ensure more arrests lead to convictions, just like this one, in the future.”
Jose Louies, WTI, said the poachers were caught after two of the gang turned informer: “The gang moved across the country in various disguises, mostly adorning the facade of street vendors, setting up camps near tiger reserves. Once the camp is set up, the men break off into small groups and infiltrate tiger habitats. More....