By Naresh Mitra
GUWAHATI: Three poachers, who would lace venison with highly toxic pesticides to prevent putrefaction and committed a host of other wildlife crime at the Nameri National Park and Tiger Reserve, were convicted by a district court recently.
The Sonitpur additional sessions judge, S Das, has sentenced Arjun Basumatary, Bijoy Basumatary and Debeswar Pogag to seven years rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on each under the Wildlife (Protection) (Assam Amendment) Act 2009.
Nameri reserve field director and divisional forest officer of the western Assam wildlife division, Rajendra G Garawad, said this is probably the first instance in the state when three poachers have been convicted under the Wildlife (Protection) (Assam Amendment) Act. Garawad said the verdict came within 14 months of their arrest, making it one of the fastest conviction cases against poachers.
Among the three, Pogag was one of the most wanted poachers who had been evading arrest for years by shuttling his base between Sonitpur and southern states like Karnataka and Kerala. He added that apart from committing various wildlife crimes, the three were involved in killing various deer species at Nameri.
"During interrogation, they confessed to using Furadon, a highly toxic pesticide used to keep away flies from venison and also to prevent early putrefaction. Nameri is a tiger reserve, and deer is the most important prey base for the big cat. The poaching of deer is a big ecological threat to the tiger habitat," Garawad said.
The conviction of the three came a week after the Darrang sessions court also sentenced two poachers, who had attempted to kill a rhino at the Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park in 2011. The two at Orang were convicted under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
Also last year, a mother-son duo, Picholi Doley and her son Gautam, were convicted by the Golaghat sessions court in connection with rhino poaching at the Kaziranga National Park, a Unesco world heritage site, about 250 km from here. The last time poachers were convicted for killing rhinos at Kaziranga was in 2008.