India: Three leopard skins have been seized from Khatima in Udham Singh Nagar in a joint operation by the Special Task Force (STF) and the state forest department on Sunday. As many as 17 leopard skins have been confiscated in the state this year.
The animal skins seized on Sunday are over seven feet in length. They are believed to be at least six months old. The joint team also arrested two suspected poachers.
Babulal, sub-divisional officer, Khatima, told TOI, "After a tip off, we laid a trap and waited in Khatima until the accused arrived on a motorbike. The team waved at them to stop but they tried to run. They were apprehended after a km-long chase."
The accused have been identified as 32-year-old Daljeet Singh Grewal from Ashok Farm at Melaghat road in Khatima and Shekhar Verma, 34, a resident of Meena Bazar in Banbasa of Champawat district. They were reportedly on their way to deliver the skins to a client in Haldwani. The duo has been booked under sections 9, 49B, 50 and 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
The increasing incidents of leopard skin seizures has sent alarm bells ringing in the state. On July 6, Dehradun Police arrested three suspected poachers and seized a leopard skin from them in Sahaspur on the outskirts of Dehradun. Earlier, on April 29, Pithoragarh Police seized a leopard skin and arrested three poachers while on April 17, a Special Task Force of police nabbed a wildlife smuggler in Dehradun and seized nine leopard skins from his possession. On February 19, a joint team of Champawat forest division staff and police department seized three leopard skins while on February 8, another three leopard skins were seized and two arrested in Haldwani forest division.
(Source: Times of India)