In what could be a case of poaching in the city, the police seized a leopard’s skin and arrested four persons who were trying to sell it near a temple opposite the main gate of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in Borivli (East) on Monday.
While two of the accused are sons of forest department employees, one is a relative.
Investigators suspect the wild cat was shot, as there is a gaping hole on its skin.
Ambadas Pote, deputy commissioner of police, said a trap was laid after they got a tip-off. The police got someone to pose as a customer, who got in touch with the men and brokered a deal for Rs.4.5 lakh.
The four arrested are Anup Khaire, 27, Prashant Patel, 26, Tushar Bagwe, 20, and Abhisekh Rane, 23. Patel and Bagwe live inside the SGNP premises as their fathers are forest department employees.
Pote said investigations have not suggested the involvement of forest department officials. “We are trying to ascertain if the group shot the leopard themselves and whether it was killed within city limits,” he said.
“If poaching has happened inside the park, it is worrying. We will conduct an inquiry,” said Sunil Limaye, director, SGNP.