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Leopard Skin Seized In Bhubaneswar, Driver Of Pvt Varsity Held

Bhubaneswar: The Special Task Force (STF) of Crime Branch on Tuesday seized a leopard skin and held one person in this connection following a raid in Baramunda area of the capital city.

The arrested person identified as one Prasant Nayak belongs to Karanjia in Mayurbhanj district. According to sources in STF, Prasant is working as a driver in a private university in Bhubaneswar.

Acting on a tip-off, the STF conducted a raid and arrested the accused while he was allegedly making a deal to sale the skin in the market. He had reportedly stuffed the skin in the side-box of his two-wheeler and was carrying it to supply to one named Ajit Das. A deal of Rs 5 lakh was reportedly agreed between the duo.

While further investigation in this connection is underway, sources said another driver of the concerned private university is also accused of being involved in the racket.

“Other accused involved in the case will be arrested soon. We are trying to trace the origin of the wildlife poaching,” said Tejraj Patel, Additional SP of STF.

In 2019, 7 people were arrested for smuggling leopard skins in Kuchinda area of Sambalpur. 4 such hides were confiscated from their posession. During the same year, two skins were recovered from Bhawanipatna and Barkote area of Deogarh.

On October 20, officials of the forest department had detained five persons following seizure of leopard skin in Mayurbhanj district. All the five accused were picked by the forest department officials at Katas village near the NH-49, under the Bisoyi range.

It is pertinent to mention here that there has been a spurt in the smuggling of wild animals and hides with seizures reported from different parts of the State at regular intervals. It is suspected that the poaching of wild animals increased on account of the COVID-induced lockdown.

On October 13, the STF had arrested a smuggler and recovered a leopard skin from his possession near Sambalpur-Sonepur border. In another incident on September 13, the forest department personnel had seized three leopard skins at Tentulikhunta under Nabarangpur forest range while four poachers were arrested for their alleged involvement.

As per official sources, Crime Branch has seized more than 14 leopard hides in the last two years.

Wildlife experts have raised questions against the State government for failing to set up a special striking force for forest and wildlife safety as was promised by CM Naveen Patnaik way back in 2008.

(Edited by Devbrat Patnaik)

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