Guwahati, April 9 (IANS) Two skins of endangered clouded leopards have been seized and two people have been arrested near the famed Manas Tiger Reserve in Assam, an official said.
Following a tip-off, a team led by Bhuyanpara forest range officer Adhan Oza Saturday raided a shop in Milan Bazar in Baksa district, some 20 km from the reserve, leading to the recovery of the skins, which were six months old.
Two people who had come to sell the illegal items were arrested, Oza told IANS. The accused were produced at the Barpeta district sessions court, and after which they were sent to Barpeta jail.
Clouded leopards are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wild life Protection Act 1972 - the highest protection accorded to endangered wild animals in India.
This was the second seizure by Oza and his team last week.
On April 3, a leopard skin was seized and one person was arrested in Bhogpur Ghat on the eastern boundary of the reserve. The arrested person told the investigators that he had been paid Rs.2,000 to transport the skin to another location. He was sent to jail.
However, one of the two carrying the skin managed to escape on a bicycle.
Clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa) are smaller in size than the leopards (Panthera pardus), smallest of the four big cats.
The Manas sanctuary, spread across more than 2,000 sq km on the foothills of the Himalayas, is home to tigers, elephants, wild buffaloes, rhinos, clouded leopards and leopards, among other animals.
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