Mutilated carcass of leopard in Odisha triggers suspicion of poaching
The mutilated carcass of a leopard was found in Odisha’s Sundergarh district on Wednesday, triggering suspicion of poaching by villagers.
Forest officials in Sundargarh district said the caracass of the leopard with its lower limb severed was found near a railway track at Badarampia village under Hemagir forest range. Sundargarh District Forest Officer (DFO) Sanjay Swain said as the leopard had attacked and injured five villagers of the area on Tuesday evening, there is possibility that the locals killed the animal.
“We are investigating into the issue and would take action against anyone who is found to have killed the leopard,” he said. The Hemgiri Forest Range is reportedly home to many big cats including leopard, tiger and black panther. Leopards are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Over the last 10 years, at least 155 leopards have been poached across Odisha.
The killing of the leopard came days after the all India Tiger Census 2018 conducted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority revealed that the number of tigers in Odisha have remained static between 2014 and 2018. Wildlife conservationists of Odisha blamed poaching for the lack of rise in tiger numbers.
In last two months, forest department as well as special task force of Crime Branch of Odisha Police have seized five leopard skins indicating its largescale poaching. Last month, a joint team of Chhattisgarh Police and Odisha forest department had arrested a person on charges of leopard skin trade in Nuapada district on the Odisha-Chhattisgarh border. A bag containing leopard skin was seized from his possession.
In June, the Special Task Force of Odisha Crime Branch has seized four leopard skins and arrested three people in Nayagarh district who were engaged in trading of leopard skin.
“Odisha has been losing both tigers and leopards due to poaching despite the state having excellent habitat and vast forests for the big cats to flourish. The forest department has miserably failed to control poaching even in tiger reserves like Simlipal and Satkosia,” alleged wildlife conservationist Biswajit Mohanty.