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Bhubaneswar: The rising number of leopard deaths in Odisha has raised major concerns on the safety of wild animals in the State. As per reports, three leopards have died in past 25 days in separate places of the State.

On January 16, one leopard was found dead in Rengali reservoir area of Pallahara in Angul while carcass of another was found on the premises of ordnance factory in Saintala of Bolangir district on February 5. Similarly, another leopard was found dead in Chhendipada in Angul on February 9.

“This is the first time we have come to know about presence of a leopard in this area,” said Krushna Chandra Behera, a resident of Pallahara.

In his reaction Angul DFO V.Karthik said, “From preliminary investigation it is being suspected that a chronic disease might be the cause of death of the leopard. But the reason is still not clear and therefore, the specimen will be sent to OUAT.”

As per reports, 26 leopards have died since 2013. The 2004 census shows that 487 leopards were present in the State. However, the number has dwindled to 318 in 2016 due to several reasons. Experts have said that as the number of tigers is declining, poachers have been targeting leopards.

“In recent past, there is no seizure of tiger skin. Besides, tiger poaching is difficult these days. Instead skin of leopard is being seized at different places and their demand is growing. The Forest department should take steps to give protection to the wild animals,” said Lala Ashwini Kumar Singh, a tiger expert.

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