Vikash Sharma

Nuapada: The Special Task Force (STF) of Crime Branch on Monday arrested two persons on the charges of possessing a leopard skin and other incriminating materials.

The accused - Saburban Singh Deo and Samansingh Majhi were arrested following a raid by a special team of the STF at Palaspada chhak under Sinapali police limits in the district.

Senior officials said that as the duo could not produce any valid authority or documents in support of possession of the leopard skin, they were arrested under section 379/411 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 51 of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.

Both the accused will be produced before the court of JMFC, Sinapali and efforts will be taken to ascertain the source of the procurement of the leopard skin. The leopard skin will be sent to the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun for chemical examination, a senior STF official said.

It is pertinent to mention here that Odisha, which has a vast forest cover, has allegedly turned unsafe for wild animals owing the spurt in poaching activities, especially during the COVID-19 induced lockdown last year.

Three wildlife smugglers were arrested by the Crime Branch from Mayurbhanj on February 8, 2021. Huge quantities of elephant tusks and leopard skins were seized from their possession.

On November 25 last year, the STF busted a major leopard skin smuggling racket by arresting three persons in this connection in Bargarh. The STF team has also seized a leopard skin along with nails and teethes from them.

(Edited By Rashmi Ranjan Mohanty)