Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

Keonjhar: Taking serious note of media reports on rampant smuggling of leopard skins in the State, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has slapped a notice to the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) of Odisha seeking factual status of steps taken for protection of leopards and action-taken over reports of smuggling.

Based on a news article titled 'Wildlife racket busted, leopard skin seized' published in Times Group News on June 21, the NTCA has demanded the Odisha CWW to furnish a detailed investigation report on the racket involved in the smuggling of the leopard skin which was busted by the Special Task Force (STF) of Odisha Crime Branch.

The NTCA has demanded clarification from the State Forest department about the action taken in ensuring safety of leopards including steps taken to nab poachers and end customers along with measures on monitoring and patrolling to stop wildlife poaching.

It is pertinent to mention, the STF had busted a leopard skin smuggling racket in Barkote under Deogarh limits on Friday. As many as three persons were caught red-handed while striking a deal to smuggle the hide for around Rs 8 to 10 lakhs in Rourkela.

Earlier in March this year, the STF had similarly busted another skin smuggling racket arresting 7 persons from Kuchinda area of Sambalpur.