The Central Unit of Crime Branch of Navi Mumbai police arrested two persons for allegedly involving in skinning the leopard in the forest area in Panvel Taluka in Raigad district. The police also recovered skin, nail and other body parts of the leopard from them.
An FIR has been registered under section 9, 39,48 (A), 49 (B) and 51 of the Wild Life Protection Act 1972 at Panvel Taluka police station.
Police said that they received information that a gang is active in animal hunting and skinning in the forest and hilly area near Morbe Dam in Panvel taluka in Raigad district.
Based on the information, a team under the guidance of N B Kolhatkar, senior police inspector of Crime Branch of Central Unit conducted a raid in the forest. Police Commissioner Bipin Kumar Singh informed that the team walked all the way in a deep forest and hilly area and stayed two days there.
Finally, they noticed a hut and when they enquired, they found two persons inside it. They were identified as Ganpat Paluk Lobhi, 26, a resident of Palekhurd in Panvel Taluka and Ganpat Raghu Wagh, 55, a resident of Wavanje village in Panvel Taluka.
When they searched the hut, they found a sack. “When it was opened, the skin of an animal lookalike a leopard was found,” said Singh. He added that forest department officials were informed and both Lobhi and Wagh were taken into custody.
The Forest department official came and identified the skin of a leopard. When both the accused were interrogated, they informed that around one and a half month ago, they had found a dead leopard in the forest. They brought the leopard at the hut and later hanged with a tree and removed the skin, teeth, and nails. The police also recovered teeth and other body parts of leopard from them.
During the investigation, it was also revealed that they used poisoned small animal like rat to trap leopard. And when the leopard dies due to poison, they skin them and sell in the market.
Police Commissioner Singh said that it is not possible the know the exact price of animal body parts as it is dependent on buyers. However, the present recovery is around worth Rs 48 lakh.