A special squad of Deogarh police seized a leopard hide from a place near Ambakata forest under Barkote police limits and arrested five persons for their alleged involvement in the wildlife crime on Monday.
While the police have not revealed the identity of the accused, they said all the arrested wildlife criminals are residents of Sundargarh district. The leopard had been poached six days ago, police said.
SP, Deogarh, Rajkishore Paikray told reporters that the police had been tipped about some people possessing the big cat’s skin and looking for buyers. “We deputed some members of the Special Squad in plain cloth posing as prospective buyers. They struck a deal of Rs 12 lakh with the accused. When the accused persons handed over the skin, they were picked up,” said Paikray.
During questioning, the accused failed to produce any supportive paper or document for the possession of the feline’s skin. They were subsequently put under arrest.
Paikray said the police are making further probe to go to the root of the racket. “Our efforts are on to find out where leopards are being poached, where the poached animals’ skins are tanned, from where they are procuring guns alongside the actual buyers of these banned animal body parts. Moreover, efforts are on to find out the price such hides fetch in the grey market,” Paikaray added.
Notably, On January 11, the court of the sub-divisional judicial magistrate (SDJM), Khordha, had sentenced two persons to rigorous imprisonment for six months for smuggling leopard skin . After finding Sudhira Behera and Subash Chandra Behere, both de residents, guilty under sections 379/411/120 (B) of IPC r/w Section 51 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act,1972 in STF PS Case No. 11/2021, the court had awarded them the sentence.