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Two held with leopard skin in Kudghat

The arrested men were being tracked by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau for a week following a tip-off
The two were arrested after one of them showed the skin to the sleuths posing as customers
The two were arrested after one of them showed the skin to the sleuths posing as customers
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Our Special Correspondent   |   Calcutta   |   Published 10.11.20, 04:07 AM

A leopard skin was found on two men, arrested by forest officials in Kudghat on Monday.

The skin “seemed around 10 years old” and was that of an “adult” leopard, a forest official said. “It had two bullet wounds, suggesting the cat had been killed.”

The arrested men were being tracked by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau for a week following a tip-off. The sleuths posed as customers and set up a meeting near the Industrial Training Institute in Tollygunge.

The two were arrested after one of them showed the skin to the sleuths posing as customers. They have been identified as Shankar Mahato, 29, and Pintu Mahato, 32.

The forest official said they were brothers who lived in Haridevpur area.

The brothers had come on two two-wheelers, both of which have been seized.

“Prima facie, it seems the leopard had been killed years ago. The skin was not well preserved,” an official of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau said.

The agency assisted the the state forest department’s wildlife wing in the operation.

From nose to tail, the skin is around 2.19m long. The brothers brought it wrapped in a white sheet of cloth, kept in a plastic bag inside a jute sack, a forest official said.

“The two are being interrogated. They seem to be couriers or middlemen part of a bigger racket,” a forest official at the departmental headquarters in Calcutta said.

The two men arrested on Monday will be produced in Alipore court on Tuesday. They have been charged under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

The body parts are usually taken out of the country through the Northeast corridor and then via Nepal and Bhutan, an official said. A full skin, also in solid demand in fashion in the West, sells for a “few lakhs”, another official said.

In late January this year, a Bengal tiger skin was seized from three men in a hotel along the Bypass. “They are out on bail now. We are investigating if the two seizures are linked,” a forest official said.



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