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Ramakanta Biswas

A 37-year-old man has been arrested on charges of illegal trade of wildlife articles belonging to Schedule-I species in Sambalpur district of Odisha.

The accused was arrested by the officials of Hirakud Wildlife Division with help of the Sambalpur district police.

Four leopard nails, one leopard claw, wild dog skin and hair and ornaments made from pangolin scale were recovered from the accused identified as Akash Agrawal. All these animals are endangered species protected under Schedule-I of Wildlife Protection Act, the forest department said. 

According to a statement issued by the forest department, the raid was conducted following the receipt of information from a source. Officials of the Hirakud Wildlife Division and Sambalpur district police took part in the raid. The accused was nabbed red handed when the selling of the articles was in progress. 

“The accused was selling the leopard nails to a buyer at Rs 5000 a piece by claiming them as tiger nails. During interrogation, the accused disclosed that tiger nails are in demand as it is a believed it will bring prosperity and good luck to the person who wears it,” the statement quoted Anshu Pragyan Das, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Hirakud Wildlife Division as saying.  

“People prefer wearing rings or necklace out of it. Many middlemen involved in the illegal trade procure wildlife articles from people living in and around Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary,” she added. 

Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary under Hirakud Wildlife Division is spread over of 383 sq. km. Hirakud reservoir acts as perennial source of water for the wild animals living in the sanctuary. Species like Bison, Chousingha, Nilgai, Leopard, Sambar and Spotted Deer are commonly sighted in the sanctuary which has good density of wildlife population. Indian Bison and Leopard are found in good numbers in the park. 

“Camera traps have been laid covering the entire area of the sanctuary, informer network has been strengthened and day and night foot patrolling has been increased to reduce the number of wildlife offences,” the statement added.

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