GUWAHATI, June 28 - The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau is making a database of rhino poachers active in the State, a move which besides facilitating the investigations will also help keep a watch over the habitual offenders.
While the agency has already compiled a list of over 300 poachers, which include names of former cadres of militant groups like NDFB(S), KPLT and KLNLF, the count is likely to cross 500.
The WCCB will then classify the habitual ones and keep an eye on their activities.
WCCB is a statutory multi-disciplinary body established by the Government of India under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to combat organized wildlife crime in the country.
Most of the poachers in the list, some of whom have been involved in more than half a dozen poaching cases, are those who have cases against them.
The move comes in the backdrop of the poor conviction rate of poachers, as a result of which many notorious criminals go back to their old ways.
�The number of poachers getting caught is increasing. In 2013, 71 were caught in and around Kaziranga, the following year, 47 were arrested and in 2015 the number of arrests was 88. Last year, 59 poachers were arrested. But it is only recently that a few accused have been convicted. Only about nine have been convicted so far,� said a Forest official.
This is despite the fact that there is a provision for life imprisonment for two offences.
Many notorious poachers, some of whom are on bail and others out after serving some time in jail, are still in the open. There have been a number of instances of poachers repeating the crime after getting released from police or judicial custody. The number of habitual poachers could be over 50, officials said.
The poor conviction is being blamed on lack of coordination between the police and Forest department, laxity in the investigations, poor knowledge of the Wildlife Act among police etc.