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Odisha STF seizes leopard skin, arrests wildlife criminal

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

SNS | BHUBANESWAR |

In the latest interception of wildlife offence, the Special Task Force (STF) wing of Odisha police on Thursday seized a leopard skin and arrested a wildlife criminal in Khordha district.

The poaching of these protected animals has shot up in Odisha with the seizure of around 27 leopard skins in the one year. Of the seizures, the STF alone has accounted for the seizure of 22 skins.

The arrested person was identified as Ratnakar Sahoo. The STF personnel nabbed the offender at Gambharimunda village under Banpur police station jurisdiction. He was about to strike a deal to dispose of the skins when the STF arrested him 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 arrested person is being interrogated. It is being investigated to ascertain whether he was 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.

Since 2020, the STF has intensified its special drive against the wildlife criminals and poachers and seized as many as 22 leopard skins, 12 elephant tusks, 7 deer skin, 8 live pangolins and 15 kg pangolin scales while 51 wildlife criminals were also arrested.