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Skins of tiger, leopard seized from Odisha's Kalahandi; 8 persons arrested

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Bhawanipatna (Odisha), July 11: An inter-state racket involved in wildlife crime was busted in Odisha''s Kalahandi district on Saturday, and eight people were arrested in this connection, an official said.

Skins of tiger, leopard seized from Odishas Kalahandi; 8 persons arrested

In a joint operation conducted by forest officials of Odisha and Chhattisgarh and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau personnel, skins of a tiger and a leopard were seized from M Rampur area and two leopard hides from Junagarh in the district, he said.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) in Odisha Shashi Paul said the tiger skin appears to be suspicious as the size of it and nails are relatively small.

"We are examining it. If required, we will send the sample to the Centre for Wildlife Health at Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology or to the forensic laboratory of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) at Dehradun for confirmation," he said.

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Kalahandi district has turned into a "hotspot of wildlife crime", another forest official said on the condition of anonymity.

The seizures of leopard skins and claws were made in the South and North Forest Division, Kalahandi during the raids conducted in the last two days, he said.

"These seizures reconfirmed the existence of the wildlife crime racket here," the official said.

The forest officials have seized five tiger skins from Gariabundh of Chhattisgarh in the last six months, and all the accused in the smuggling of animal body parts were from Kalahandi, he said.

Divisional Forest Officer of North Kalahandi Nitish Kumar said that the six have been interrogated to find out the inter-state poaching and trading links.

ACF Kalahandi Siba Prasad Rath said, "Raipur of Chhattisgarh is a market for wildlife trophies. However, there is less chance of poaching in Kalahandi."

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