Leopard skin smuggling: Probe hints animals were shot by poachers

Sambalpur: Preliminary investigation into the seizure of four leopard skins in Kuchinda of Sambalpur district on Friday, revealed that there are holes in the seized skins and there is a high likelihood that the animals were shot by poachers. However, investigations are still on to ascertain the source of the skins, sources said.

According to sources, inspection of the leopard hides revealed one or two holes creating suspicion that the animals were killed for their skins.

PCCF (Wildlife), Ajay Kumar Mohapatra said, “We cannot say anything for sure as of now as the leopards could be from Odisha or some other State. According to information available with us, we are trying to find out about leopard deaths.”

Subhendu Mallick, Honorary Wildlife Warden, said “The leopard skins reveal gunshots, but ballistic or forensic expert can reveal more on this. The skins are mostly sourced from outside State and are also smuggled to foreign countries.”

“We have not killed the leopards and the skins might have been brought from outside the State,” said one of the accused person.

Meanwhile, the Special Task Force (STF) today forwarded the seven accused held in connection with the seizure of leopard skins to court today. During interrogation, the accused have reportedly confessed that they are involved in trading of leopard skins. The STF plans to take the accused persons on remand.

STF SP, Rahul PR said, “The backward and forward linkages, the source, persons involved, prospective buyers, criminal network and financial transactions are being investigated in connection with the case.”