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Leopard head, hide recovered in Odisha, four arrested

PHOTO CAPTION: Odisha forest department personnel with alleged poachers and body parts of wild animal in Odisha's Nuapada district on Sunday. Special Arrangement  

The Odisha Forest Department on Sunday recovered a leopard’s head that was buried by alleged poachers in their backyard and arrested four persons, including a mother-son duo, from Nuapada district.

The Forest Department personnel also confiscated a leopard hide, pangolin scales, 20 kg meat of wild boar, porcupine quills, electrocution materials, bow and arrow and trap materials from Tipajhar village adjacent to the Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary.

Acting on a tip-off, a team carried out a raid early on Sunday. “We found the animal head buried by the villagers in their backyard. They had skinned the big cat. We suspect the leopard was poached recently in the Sunabeda sanctuary,” said Jayaram Sabar, assistant conservator of forests, Nuapada.

Mr. Sabar said they had not yet ascertained if the family had any links with bigger wildlife trading groups in Odisha or Chhattisgarh.

More seizures

The seizure of leopard skin and head came a week after forest personnel of Nabarangpur division seized three leopard hides and arrested four poachers from near the Tentulikhunti jungle. Similarly, the Berhampur Forest Division personnel had seized a leopard hide and arrested one person a week ago.

In June, the Special Task Force of the Odisha Crime Branch seized four leopard hides from alleged poachers in Nayagarh district. One accused, identified as Laxmidhar Nayak, a Panchayat Samiti member, was seen skinning an animal himself in Nayagarh.

“The Forest Department has been seizing 8 to 9 leopard hides every year. Since they usually escape conviction due to weak investigation by law enforcement agencies, poachers have become emboldened,” said Biswajit Mohanty, secretary of the Wildlife Society of Orissa (WSO).

According to WSO, more than 160 leopards have been poached in the last 10 years. “The number of leopards poached in the past decade could be higher than estimated. Many cases of poaching have gone unreported,” alleged Mr. Mohanty, a former member of the National Board for Wildlife.

He said that in 1996, the Forest Department had carried out raids and recovered 21 leopard hides in Pichukoli area of Khordha district, possibly the largest seizure of leopard skins in a single raid in the country. However, there was no information on how many people were convicted in that case, said Mr. Mohanty.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2020 4:04:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/leopard-head-hide-recovered-in-odisha-four-arrested/article32656019.ece

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