Rashmi Ranjan

Despite a series of crackdowns, Odisha seems to be fast turning into a safe heaven for poachers with rampant killing and trading of wildlife articles being reported across the State. 

In the latest instance, the Crime Branch STF has seized a leopard hide from Khajuripada area of Phulbani in Kandhamal district on Sunday evening and arrested two persons in connection with the case.

The two accused have been identified as Sujit Rajaswadip and Dhananjay Behera.

Acting on a tip-off, a team of STF carried out raids near Khajuripada area in the district and arrested the wildlife criminals while they were striking a deal to sell the leopard skin.

During the search operation, one leopard skin and other incriminating materials were recovered from their possession, sources informed.

As the accused could not produce any authority in support of the possession of such leopard skin, they have been arrested under Section 51 of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, sources in the Crime Branch said.

While the duo will be forwarded to Phulbani SDJM court, the skin will be sent to Director WII, Dehradun for biological examination, sources informed.

Recently, the Crime Branch STF had seized a leopard hide from Nakatideula in Sambalpur district and arrested one person in connection with the case.