Gondia: Acting on tip-off, official of Gondia Forest Department on Tuesday night raided a house in village Bakti coming under Navegaonbandh Range in Sadak Arjuni Tehsil and seized skin of a leopard.
House of accused Mangesh Badole was raided. During the questioning, Badole revealed names of two other accomplices Vinod Rukhmode, resident of Katakdhara and Ravindra Walde of Kesalwada. Vinod and Ravindra were also rounded up by the Forest officials comprising Range Officer Patil, RFO Roshan Donode, ACF Narendra Shende, Barabhati’s forest guard Mithun Chauhan and other personnel
Interrogation of the three arrested accused revealed that the leopard was hunted down out of superstitions. The accused thought of worshipping the skin of leopard would make them rich. The accused were planning to trap superstitious villagers and force them to perform yaggya-puja so that money would flow to their houses and they will become rich.
Forest officials are now probing as to from where the leopard skin, measuring 8 feet long and 5 feet wide – was procured by the three arrested accused. The market price of the seized skin of leopard could be around Rs 10 lakh. The skin did not bear mark of injection or bullets. It is possible the big cat was killed by poisoning or electrocution. The seized skin is treated one. It means the skin was not peeled in jungles.
The three accused were booked under Sections 2/16, 2/36, 9, 39, 44, 48A, 49B, 50, 51 of Wildlife Protection Act and produced in court. Questioning during PCR custody, more facts could be revealed by the accused.