In the latest interception of wildlife offence, the Special Task Force (STF) wing of Odisha police on Monday seized two leopard skins and arrested two wildlife criminals in the Mayurbhanj district.
The poaching of these protected animals has shot up in Odisha with the seizure of around 30 leopard skins in the last two years. Of the seizures, the STF alone has accounted for the seizure of 24 skins.
The arrested persons were identified as Prasant Mohanty and Gora Bindhani. The STF personnel nabbed the offenders near a college under Betanati police station jurisdiction. 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 arrested persons are being interrogated. It is being investigated to ascertain whether they were part of an organized wildlife trophy smuggling racket.
During the last two years, the STF has intensified its special drive against wildlife criminals and poachers and seized as many as 24 leopard skins, 12 elephant tusks, 7 deerskin, 9 live pangolins, and 15 kg pangolin scales while 54 wildlife criminals were also arrested.