Even as the CBI is set to probe the poaching of one-horned rhinos in Assam, forest officials and conservationists here feel that tightening the investigative process and denying bail to poachers will deter them from repeating the crime.
A senior forest department official said that while the CBI inquiry will be able to find out the reason for the sudden spate in killings - 16 this year alone - and whether militant outfits are behind the illegal trade of rhino horns, the government must make serious efforts like upgrading the department's infrastructure and tightening the investigation process so that the arrested poachers cannot get bail and again commit the crime.
"The recent arrest of some poachers has failed to deter criminals from killing more rhinos. The arrested poachers often manage to escape imprisonment and again commit the crime," the official said, requesting that he be not identified.
The Wildlife (Protection) (Assam Amendment) Act, 2009, has made poaching of Schedule I and Part II of Schedule II species a non-bailable offence. However, poachers often get bail even after committing the crime, the official pointed out.
"The reason is it is difficult to prove their involvement as most of them are arrested much after the crime and none of them is arrested from the crime scene," the official added.
Assam environment and forests minister Rockybul Hussain recently said that the government had received a letter from the Department of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions accepting the state government's request for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the poaching of one-horned rhinos.
Hussain had also informed the state assembly that a staggering 126 rhinos have been killed by poachers during the last 10 years.
The state had recorded a sudden spate in rhino killings since last year, particularly after the price of rhino horns soared in the international market. More....