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Odisha STF seizes leopard skin, arrests two wildlife criminals

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.

SNS | BHUBANESWAR |

In the latest interception of wildlife offence, the Special Task Force (STF) wing of Odisha police on Tuesday seized a leopard skin and arrested two wildlife criminals in Bisoi police station area in Mayurbhanj district.

The poaching of these protected animals has shot up in Odisha with the seizure of around 22 leopard skins in the one year. Of the seizures, the STF alone has accounted for the seizure of 18 skins.

The STF personnel nabbed the offenders near Chatani bus stop. They were about to strike a deal to dispose of the skins when the STF arrested them on specific feedback provided from the ground level, said Deputy Inspector General of police, STF, Mr. Jai Narayan Pankaj.

Poaching of leopard, 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

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. It is being investigated to ascertain whether they were part of an organized wildlife trophy smuggling racket, said DIG, STF Mr Pankaj.

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.

During the last one year, the STF has intensified its special drive against the wildlife criminals and poachers and seized as many as 19 leopard skins, ten elephant tusks, two deer skin, five live pangolins and 15 kg pangolin scales while 39 wildlife criminals were also arrested.