Caught On Cam: Leopard Skin Trade In Odisha Sparks Concerns
Bhubaneswar: Amid the rising incidents of poaching in the State, a viral video purportedly showing poachers striking a deal to sell leopard hides has raised serious concerns over the safety of wild animals in Odisha forests.
The video purportedly shows Bandhamunda (Nayagarh district) samiti member Laxmidhar Nayak making a deal with a few traders. Soon after the video and a few pictures of the racket surfaced, a Special Task Force (STF) of Crime Branch arrested Nayak from Ranpur area of the district and recovered two leopard hides and around 30 pieces of bones from his possession. STF officials later informed that the accused was arrested when he was on his way to strike a deal for hides and bones.
Locals alleged that the apathy of the forest department is encouraging the poachers in the region. “If animals will be killed like this, their extinction is imminent. An investigation may bust the racket between the poachers and the forest department personnel,” said a resident of Ranpur, Benudhar Behera.
However, deputy range officer of Ranpur, Sarat Chandra Satpathy said the wild animals are totally safe in the forests under his jurisdiction. “We have no evidence of poaching in our area,” he said.
Wildlife experts have also alleged apathy and complete failure of the Forest department officials in protecting the animals. “Poachers are active in the areas where presence of animals is high. As the forest department seems unaware of those vulnerable areas and fails to provide security, poaching of animals is taking place,” said a wildlife expert, Lala AK Singh.
Hari Shankar Upadhyay, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, on the other hand said he is yet to receive the Crime Branch report and action will be taken against those found guilty.
(Edited by Bikram Keshari Jena)