Cassian Baliarsingh

Poaching of wild animals continues unabated in Odisha which is quite evident following the seizure of a leopard hide in Mayurbhanj district.

Acting on a tip-off, a special squad of Mayurbhanj police conducted surprise raids at a ‘dhaba’ on National Highway near Katra under Bangripossi police limits and made the seizure.

The raid team has arrested at least eight poachers in connection with the incident. Police suspect the involvement of an organised wildlife smuggling gang in the poaching of wild animals and smuggling of hides as another leopard skin was also seized just a month back.

After preliminary interrogation, all the eight accused were produced before the court and later sent to judicial custody after rejection of their bail pleas, reports said.

According to sources, the eight accused were making a deal to sell the leopard skin at the eatery. Following inputs from reliable sources, a special team conducted a sudden raid and made the arrests. All the accused are from different villages under Bangripossi and Jharapokhoria police limits.

The preliminary probe revealed the accused had hunted the leopard at Similipal Sanctuary. The accused were trying to strike a deal of Rs 7L for the leopard skin, police said.

A few days back, the special task force (STF) of the Odisha Crime Branch had arrested a wildlife smuggler and seized the skins of a Royal Bengal Tiger (RBT) and a leopard from his possession.