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Sharmili Mallick

Bargarh: The Forest department has arrested 3 persons in connection with the death of a leopard whose decomposed carcass was recovered from Damodarpada forest under Bhatli Forest Range in October.

The officials have also seized leopard's claws from the possession of the arrested persons, who could be a part of a poaching racket from outside the State.

Earlier, Crime Branch ADG Santosh Upadhyay had said,“As the area is close to the border, the involvement of criminals outside the State cannot be ruled out.”

Though the Crime Branch is yet to take up the investigation of the case, forest department had submitted a preliminary report to the former.

“We have received the report last night and at present only forest department can give more details on it. An impartial probe will be carried out taking into account all aspects to find out the truth after we take over the case completely,” Upadhyay added.

While the carcass was earlier suspected to be that of a Royal Bengal Tiger, Forest & Environment Minister Bijayshree Routray later clarified that it was the body of a 2-3 weeks old leopard.

As the exact reason of death of the animal is yet to be ascertained, the body has been sent to the Wildlife Institute in Dehradun for examination, official sources said.

After conducting a preliminary probe, the Bargarh Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) on October 31 suspended two forest officials including Kamagaon forester Parsuram Behera and forest guard of Hajuripada, Prabhasini Mahanand for dereliction of duty.

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