three leopard skins seized, 4 held over illegal wildlife trade
13 September 2020

India: Odisha wildlife department officials have seized three leopard skins and arrested four young men in Nabarangpur district for allegedly being involved in smuggling.

Chief wildlife warden HS Upadhyay said a team of wildlife officials of Nabarangpur district intercepted two vehicles at different places on Saturday and recovered 3 leopard hides. While one team intercepted a motorcycle in a bordering area of Kalahandi and Nabarangpur districts at around 11.30 am and recovered one leopard skin from them, another team seized two leopard hides from another two-wheeler in Nandahandi block of the district at around 3:30 pm.

“We disguised as regular customers and caught the accused red-handed. We will produce photographic evidence in court,” said Nabarangpur DFO Magar Dhanaji Raoso.

The arrested persons are Surendra Naik and Trinath Naik from Thuamul Rampur area in Kalahandi district and Gupta Prasad Traki and Prahallad Nayak of Nabarangpur district. The accused have been booked under multiple sections of the IPC and Wildlife Protection Act. Efforts are on to ascertain the possible involvement of other people in the racket, said officials.

Earlier this month, forest officials in Mayurbhanj district had seized a leopard skin and arrested one person over his alleged involvement in illegal wildlife trade.

In June this year, the Special Task Force of the Odisha Crime Branch had arrested two persons including a teacher and recovered two leopard skins and bones from them in Nayagarh district. Leopards are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Over the last 10 years, at least 155 leopards have been poached across Odisha. Leopards are routinely poached for their skins and body parts. At least 27 leopard skins were seized in Odisha in the last two years and as many as 35 men arrested most of them in operations carried out by the Crime Branch.

(Source: The Hindustan Times)