With the latest seizure of leopard skin, the Special Task Force (STF) of Odisha police has confiscated 28 leopard skins in the past two years- indicating that the specialized investigation wing cracked the poaching of at least one of these protected animals every month.
The poaching of these protected animals has shot up in Odisha with the seizure of around 50 leopard skins in the last two years. Of the seizures, the STF alone has accounted for the seizure of 28 skins. AS per official estimate, the leopard population in Odisha stands close to 800.
Leopards, a Schedule I animal under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, are provided absolute protection as per the legal provisions.
The STF seized a leopard skin and arrested a wildlife criminal yesterday in Bolangir district, officials said on Friday.
The arrested person was identified as Adikand Gheewala. The STF personnel nabbed the offender near Tikrapada-Saintala road under Saintala police station jurisdiction. He was about to strike a deal to dispose of the skin when the STF arrested them on specific feedback provided from the ground level, said Deputy Inspector General of police, STF, Mr. Jai Narayan Pankaj.
During search , leopard skin and other incriminating materials were recovered from his possession. The accused person could not produce any authority in support of possession of such leopard skin, for which he has been detained and handed over to forest officials under Bolangir Forest Division for necessary legal action at their end. Further inquiry into the matter is continuing, he said.
Since 2020, STF has seized as many as 28 leopard skins, 24 elephant tasks, 7 deer skins, 13 Nos. of live pangolin, 30.4 kilograms of pangolin scales, 2 leopard teeth, 29 leopard claws, 46 live wild parrots. A total of 68 wildlife criminals have been taken into custody in this connection.