The wildlife department seized a leopard skin, measuring 73 inches in length and 36 inches in width, from Ballabhgarh in Faridabad district on 7 Feb 2018. One person was arrested and an FIR was lodged in the matter under Wildlife Protection Act, sources said.
Acting on a tip-off from Wildlife SOS, an NGO, to the chief wildlife warden of the state of Haryana, a team was constituted and a raid operation was carried out at 10.30pm on 7 Feb. The skin was found hidden under several layers of blankets under the bed of one Ram Das.
“A team comprised of wildlife officials and policemen was constituted as soon as we received the tip-off. The skin appears to be nearly five years old. Since Faridabad is a border district, the skin could have come from any of the neighboring states.
“We will definitely find out where the accused got it from to establish further links to this case,” Vinod Kumar, conservator of forest (wildlife), Gurugram circle told Times of India.
Police said that the accused acquired the skin from a middleman. “During the interrogation, the accused informed that a dealer sold the skin to him. We will investigate the matter further as it is important to know who the dealer was. We have already filed an FIR under sections of Wildlife Protection Act,” said a cop from Ballabgarh police station.
Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS, said, “The operation was a success. Poaching or possession of protected wildlife species is a punishable offence. If convicted, the accused could be imprisoned for up to seven years.”
Indian Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and is listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as they are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching and man-animal conflict situations.
The skin has been handed over to the police. The wildlife department might send it to Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to ascertain gender, age and habitat of the big cat. (Times of India)