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Odisha STF seizes leopard skins, arrests wildlife criminal

The arrested person is being interrogated. It is being investigated to ascertain whether he was part of 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 Tuesday seized two leopard skins and arrested a wildlife criminal in Boudh district.

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

The arrested person was identified as Jibardhan Bhoi. The STF personnel nabbed the offender at forest-side Kapasira under Manmunda Forest Range. 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 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 person is being interrogated. It is being investigated to ascertain whether he was part of 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.

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 a tab on animals’ poaching, they added.

During the last one year, the STF has intensified its special drive against wildlife criminals and poachers and seized as many as 18 leopard skins, nine elephant tusks, two deerskin, five live pangolins and 15 kg pangolin scales while 36 wildlife criminals were also arrested.