Himansu Shekhar Rout

The Special Task Force of the Odisha Police Crime Branch busted a racket involved in the illegal dealing and smuggling of leopard skins in Nayagarh district. During a raid, a person was arrested and two leopard skins were seized from their possession, police said on Monday. 

The accused has been identified as Baidyaraj while two of his accomplices are absconding. 

The two leopards were suspected to have been poached for smuggling of hides as the marks of gunshots were found on the skins covering the heads of the two animals. The possibility of poaching is substantiated by another fact that the STF, in the past, had seized several leopard skins in Nayagarh.    

Meanwhile, the STF has started an investigation to trace the involvement of others in the racket and where the animals had been hunted.  

As per reports, the STF on Sunday got a tip-off that a deal of Rs 10 lakh is being struck between some persons for the sale of two leopard hides. The STF officials conducted a raid near the Deer Park of the Kuanria Dam in the Daspalla area on Sunday and made the seizures.

Speaking to the media, SP of the STF, Kishore Kumar Panigrahi said, “A deal of Rs 10 lakh had been finalised among some people for the leopard skins, which would have been taken out of the state.  A person was arrested while two others involved in this illegal deal managed to escape in a car. We will soon arrest them.”

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The STF has registered a case and further investigation is underway. 

“The accused has been produced in court. If necessary, the STF will take the accused into custody for interrogation. The skins will be sent to the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun for examination. The report will confirm the age of the animals and how and when they were killed,” he added.

As for the reasons for the killing of the animals, the SP said that some people are biased and use the skins as showpieces in their homes. However, the STF has long been carrying out its to efforts curb the poaching of wildlife.

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