KOLKATA: The skin and bones of a leopard and an otter's hide were seized from the forests of Baikunthapur in North Bengal on Friday.
"We have arrested three persons, all residents of Rajasthan. Initial investigation has revealed that the skins were supposed to be sent to China via Nepal," said DFO D Rai.
As many as 87 leopard deaths have been reported across the country this year alone — 38 of them due to poaching. Last year, 327 leopard deaths were reported, of which an alarming 110 were poaching cases.
Foresters said they received a tip from villagers on suspicious movements in the forest of Baikunthapur. "We strengthened our watch and nabbed the poachers on Friday morning. People from certain tribal communities in Rajasthan are expert hunters. We are grilling them to get more information on the racket," said a forest department official.
The leopard is considered a 'near threatened' animal. Reports reveal that about 3,000 leopards were poached in India between 1994 and 2013.