NABARANGPUR:Five members of a poaching gang were arrested and six leopard hides seized from their possession along with body parts of other wild animals, all worth Rs one crore, on Monday night.
Those arrested have been identified as Sana Bisoi, Kuna Nayak, Ranjan Nayak, Bhuban Nayak and Niranjan Nayak. Of the five arrested, four belong to Thuamul-Rampur area of Kalahandi district while another person belongs to Dasamanthapur area in Koraput district.
Nabarangpur DFO, Swayam Mallick, said the Forest Department had formed a special squad of 21 forest officials in March last year to nab the gang which was active in Indravati Project reservoir area bordering Nabarangpur, Kalahandi and Koraput districts. The other seizures include eight tiger teeth, two bear teeth, five bear nails and a bear paw.
Some of the forest officials posed as animal hide traders and fixed a deal with the poachers to purchase the hides at Rs 50,000 each on Monday night.
Subsequently, the five poachers were arrested from Mukhiguda-Khatiguda road, located close to Indravati dam reservoir.
It is suspected that the leopards were hunted down either from Kashipur forest of Rayagada district or Thuamul-Rampur forest of Kalahandi district, situated adjacent to Nabarangpur.