Deogarh: The Forest department personnel arrested six persons near Chhatabar Ghat in Deogarh district while they were smuggling leopard skin from Sundergarh to Sambalpur last night.
Acting on reliable inputs, a team led by Deogarh District Forest Officer (DFO) intercepted an SUV near Barghat Chhak along the NH and found a leopard skin from the car.
Following the seizure, the forest personnel arrested six persons including the vehicle driver and seized the Mahindra Bolero car used for smuggling the contraband.
During interrogation at the local forest department office, the arrested person revealed that they were taking the leopard to Remed area in Sambalpur district from Tikayatpalli in Sundargarh district.
The arrested persons have been identified as Satya Ranjan Kisan (19) of Sundargarh’s Bonai, Sanatan Luhura (19) of Barkote, Debendra Ranachuria of Tileibani, Bimbdadhar Udabara (40) & Rajesh Behera (30) of Palaskudar village under Deogarh PS limits, and Nitesh Induar (27) of Rajamunda Sahi under Deogarh Municipality area.
Besides, two others identified as Ranu Behera of Bonai and Sushant Kulu (30) of Balama village in Deoghar PS limits have been detained by the forest officials for interrogation. The forest department has also seized some bikes and mobile phones. This apart, the seized leopard hide is estimated to worth around Rs 2 lakhs.
On being asked, Deogarh DFO Khyama Sarangi said, “The skin of a full-grown leopard having a length of 1.05 metre and a Bolero car have been seized from the smugglers.”
“According to a preliminary investigation, it was learnt that the leopard was shot dead. Further probe in this regard is underway,” Sarangi said. She further added that efforts are on the trace involvement of other persons in the racket.
Deogarh Forest Range Officer Kusha Charan Singh, Forester Prasanna Sahu and others were part of the team led by Deogarh DFO Khyama Sarangi which zeroed in on the wildlife smugglers on Monday night.