BHUBANESWAR: In the latest interception of wildlife offence, the Special Task Force (STF) wing of Odisha police on Friday arrested two persons and seized leopard skin in Nayagarh district.
The poaching of these protected animals has shot up in Odisha with the seizure of over a dozen leopard skins in the one year. Of the seizures, the STF alone has intercepted ten cases.
The arrested persons were identified as Sudhira Behera, and Subash Chandra Beher, both natives of Nayagarh district. They were nabbed while they were planning to strike a deal to sell the leopard skin, said Superintendent of Police, Prasant Kumar Bhoi.
The seized skin of leopard, a Schedule I animal under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 that provides for absolute protection of the animals, is sized at 6 feet.
The accused persons could not produce any valid document for possession of animal skin. He was booked under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The seized skin will be sent to the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, for a chemical examination.
The arrested persons are being interrogated to get further information. It is being investigated to ascertain whether he was part of organized wildlife trophy smuggling racket, said STF SP Bhoi.
Leopards have become the latest target of organised poaching rackets in the state. The hides of these protected animals are much in demand in the international market. That is the reason why over 150 leopards have been killed in Odisha during the past one decade, according to wildlife activists.
The STF, the specialized investigation wing of Odisha police, is performing an admirable job in intercepting the wildlife offences while the forest department has failed to keep tab on animals’ poaching, they added.