Bhubaneswar: In a remarkable display of leadership of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Susanta Nanda a coordinated effort was unleashed to cracked down a four year old case on seizure of leopard skin in just 9 days.
A Joint Team of State Wildlife Directorate, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and the Department of Forest officials accused were nabbed.
The saga began on 5 February, 2024, with the seizure of leopard skin in Cuttack and the subsequent arrest of seven individuals.
The arrested accused are –Pramod Jena of Cuttack, Rabinarayan Barik of Kendrapara, Jitendra Pradhan, Brindaban Paik, Gurunath Paik & Gautam Malik of Ganjam district and Tawatia Paik of Gajapati,
Undeterred by the complexity of the case, the joint task force embarked on an intensive search operation spanning nine consecutive days across three districts of Ganjam, Kendrapara, and Gajapati. These districts, located approximately 400 kilometers away from the site of seizure, proved to be crucial hotspots in the investigation, officials said on Tuesday.
The relentless pursuit of justice bore fruit as authorities apprehended five more individuals allegedly involved in both the illegal trade and poaching of leopards. However, the pivotal breakthrough came when investigators unearthed evidence linking back to a heinous act committed four years prior, they said.
Utilizing a bike clutch wire, perpetrators ruthlessly snuffed out the life of a majestic leopard in 2019. The discovery of the spot where the leopard met its tragic end provided a vital clue in cracking the case wide open.
Additionally, the seizure of leopard claws from another accused further corroborated the evidence amassed during the investigation.
The collaborative efforts of the Chief Wildlife Warden, WCCB and the Odisha Forest Department culminated in the swift resolution of the case, a feat achieved in a mere nine days.
This record-breaking turnaround not only underscores the dedication and proficiency of the investigative teams but also serves as a beacon of hope in the ongoing battle against wildlife crime, a senior forest officer said.
As the perpetrators face the full force of the law, this successful outcome stands as a testament to the unwavering commitment to protect and preserve India’s rich biodiversity, he said.
The crackdown sends a clear message to those engaged in illegal wildlife activities that justice will prevail, no matter how long the trail may be, he added.