Security measures to be increased in Odisha forests for safety of wildlife

Bhubaneswar: The State forest authorities will soon draw out a blueprint for conservation and safety of wildlife through various reformative measures like increasing number of watch towers, protection squads and anti-poaching squads in forests.

This comes close on the heels of the National Tiger Conservation Authority’s (NTCA)s rap over rampant smuggling of leopard skin in Odisha.

Newly-appointed Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) of Odisha, Ajay Kumar Mohapatra, on Tuesday said that in order to reduce cases of poaching of wild animals, an action plan will be chalked out by the State forest authorities in coordination with other national wildlife organisations for safety and conservation of wildlife resources.

“We will seek participation of representatives from various stakeholders like the NTCA, Wildlife Institute of India (WII) at a high level meeting in mid-July this year to draw a detailed blueprint over the matter,” Mohapatra told OTV.

Asked about steps taken over reports of skin smuggling in the State, especially the most recent one reported from Deogarh, Mohapatra said that probe has been initiated into the case.

“Although the STF has not given us any details about the smuggled leopard skin, we have instructed the Divisional Forest Officers (DFO)s of Deogarh and adjoining divisions of Bonai, Bamra to collect information whether there were any recent cases of leopard poaching or recovery of carcass. Action will be taken accordingly,” Mohapatra said.

It may be noted that the NTCA has sought a report from the PCCF (Wildlife) regarding factual status of steps taken for protection of leopards and action-taken over reports of smuggling

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

 The State Crime Branch had busted cases of leopard skin smuggling rackets from Deogarh and Kuchinda of Sambalpur and arrested as many as 10 persons in last few months.