• otv
Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Keonjhar: The allegation by animal lovers that Odisha is a happy hunting ground for elephant and leopard poachers has once again received credence as the State Crime Branch officials on Sunday seized  a number of elephant tusks and leopard skins from Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj districts. Three wildlife smugglers were arrested in this connection.

According to reports, the Crime Branch officials, acting on a tip-off about the smuggling of the wildlife products raided the spot where the deal was going on and arrested the gang of smugglers. The tusks and skins were recovered from them.

The accused were being questioned to ascertain the possible involvement of others in the offence.

“Poachers are indulging in mindless killing of tuskers and leopards in the State to extract their teeth and skins. The State government, on the other hand, has not been able to contain such ghastly act because of inadequate focus on the grave issue,” said a wildlife activist.

“Despite Odisha being criticised outside for the rising number of elephant deaths, mostly tuskers, the State forest department has not been able to crack down the poachers and traders. Unless the State government wakes up to nail the poachers, the elephant population here will cease to exist,” he added.

According to sources, although the State government is arresting poachers from time to time, the killers are being acquitted due to the weak investigation process by the forest officials.

(Edited by Rashmi Ranjan Mohanty)

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