In the latest interception of wildlife offence, the Odisha police seized leopard skins and arrested three wildlife criminals in Deogarh district, the official sources informed on Monday.
Three leopard skins were seized near Tuhilamal under the Riamal forest division. Three persons were arrested while they were about to strike a deal to dispose of the skins. The seizure was made on specific feedback provided from the ground level, police said.
The arrested persons are being interrogated. It is being investigated to ascertain whether they were part of an organized wildlife trophy smuggling racket.
Poaching of leopards, a Schedule I animal under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 that provides for absolute protection of the animals, has gone up in the State, posing threat to the protected wildlife species.
There have been seizures of around 40 leopard skins in the last two years by the enforcement wings of the police and forest department.