Pradeep Pattanayak

Cracking its whip on wildlife criminals, a Special Task Force (STF) team with the help of Kantamal forest range officials on Sunday seized a leopard skin and arrested one for possessing the big cat's skin illegally from a place near Ghantapada village under Kantamal police limits in Boudh district. 

The accused has been identified as Sachitan Nayak (28) of Khamalkhol under Baliguda police limits in Kandhamal district. 

Acting on a tip-off, the STF team and Kantamal forest range officials under Boudh Forest Division carried out a raid at a place near Ghantapada village. During the search operation, a leopard skin and other incriminating materials were seized from Nayak's possession. He was apprehended after he failed to produce any valid authority in support of the possession of the skin. Later he was handed over to Boudh forest officials for necessary legal action at their end. 

A detailed investigation is underway to ascertain from where the skin was procured and if a racket is involved in it.

The STF has already launched a special drive against wildlife criminals/poachers. During last one year, the STF seized as many as 21 leopard skins, 11 tusks, two deer skins, rescued seven live pangolins, 15 kilograms of pangolin scales, and arrested 46 wildlife criminals. 

Earlier on Saturday, a leopard skin was also seized from Purughat village under Kantamal range. The STF and the forest department officials carried out a raid and seized the skin when the accused was about to strike a deal. The accused was arrested. 

Similarly, acting on information from reliable sources, Deogarh forest department officials had conducted raids at a place near Brahmanipali village under Deogarh forest division and seized a leopard skin before being sold off on November 11. Two persons were arrested for their involvement in the case.  

On November 2, in a joint operation by the STF and forest department officials, a leopard skin was seized and two accused were arrested from a location in Rairangpur of Mayurbhanj district.