Vikash Sharma

With a message that no wildlife case will go unresolved no matter how long it takes, a Joint Task Force (JFT) has busted a racket in Odisha involved in the poaching of a leopard in 2019 while carrying out a probe following the seizure of the skin from two persons in Cuttack recently.

The JTF comprised of Odisha State Wildlife Wing, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), and senior Forest Department Officials. A total of seven persons, including two involved in poaching, have been arrested.

On February 5, 2024, a leopard skin was seized from two accused, who fled the spot. However, the duo was nabbed subsequently.

“Initially we got a tip-off from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and a decoy operation was launched. Two accused were arrested on February 5. When we probed further links, we got leads to places in several Odisha districts including Ganjam and Gajapati from where some more people were arrested,” informed Deputy Conservator of Forests, Lade Gajanan Dayanand.

The senior official further informed that one of the arrested persons revealed the name of an accused from Mohana in Gajapati district who had kept the leopard skin for three years for drying. After arresting him, our team then got information regarding a person who was involved in the poaching of the leopard.

“The leopard was killed in 2019 using a clutch trap. It is not clear whether the trap was laid for a leopard or some other animal. But after the leopard was caught, the accused conspired to strike a deal. One of the accused had used the nail of the leopard as an ornament. The poaching took place in a forest in the Berhampur division,” Dayanand added.

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