BHUBANESWAR: The Special Task Force (STF) of the Crime Branch on Wednesday arrested a poacher and seized a leopard hide and one single barrel muzzle loading (SBML) gun from his possession.
Poacher Hara Rana of Gochhangi village in Boudh district had allegedly shot the leopard at its stomach, chest and neck killing it in a densely forested area near the Boudh-Kandhamal border.
Acting on a tip-off about the alleged sale of a leopard hide by wildlife criminals, the agency's officers conducted a raid near Kapasira village under Manamunda police station limits in Boudh on Wednesday and apprehended Rana from the spot.
During searches, STF officers also seized 12 pieces of ammunition and two plastic containers having gunpowder from him.
STF DIG Jai Narayan Pankaj said Rana has confessed to killing the leopard. The seized leopard hide will be sent to Wildlife Institute of India at Dehradun for further examination, he said.
"Initial probe suggests the SBML gun has been locally manufactured. Though we are yet to ascertain the criminal antecedents of Rana, there is a suspicion that he might be involved in poaching in the past too. A case has been registered under Sections 120B, 379, and 411 of IPC, Section 25 of Arms Act, and Section 51 of Wild Life (Protection) Act. Further probe is on," said Pankaj.
In the last year, the STF has launched a special drive against wildlife criminals/poachers in Odisha.
The agency has seized 15 leopard hides, nine elephant tusks, two deer skins, three live pangolins, 10 kg pangolin scales, and arrested 28 wildlife criminals during the period.
"Wildlife crimes remain one of the focus areas of the agency and we will continue our drive against the anti-socials involved in such offences," added Pankaj.
On July 10, a joint team of Odisha and Chhattisgarh Forest Departments busted an inter-state smuggling racket and seized nine hides from Kalahandi in a span of 24 hours.
The catch included hides of a tiger and two leopards from M Rampur, two hides of leopards from Junagarh, and four more from Narla under Kalahandi south and north divisions. Seven persons were arrested in this connection.