|5 skins of rare Clouded Leopard seized
26 Febrauary 2008
Five skins of the endangered Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) were
seized by Wildlife Division- 3 of the West Bengal Forest Department on
25 February 2008 at Jaigaon, on the Indo- Bhutan border. The illegal
haul comprised of skins of two adults, one sub-adult and two cubs.
Acting on a tip off, the raid was led by the D.F.O Cooch Behar, Mr.
Manindra Biswas. A resident of Jaigaon was arrested while on a bus to
Siliguri, from where he intended to move into Nepal. According to
senior forest department personnel, the accused is said to be one of
the most wanted wildlife traders on the Indo-Bhutan border. He is now
in custody and was produced before the Alipurduar Sub-divisional court
today, on 26th February 2008.
There have been two other incidents in recent times involving Clouded
Leopards. In 2004 one Clouded Leopard was killed in Buxa Tiger Reserve,
and in 2005 one Clouded Leopard skin was seized by the Kalchini police.
The Clouded Leopard falls in Schedule1 of The Wildlife (Protection) Act.
It also falls under Appendix 1 of CITES. Trade in this species is strictly prohibited.
The Clouded Leopard is the smallest of the big cat species in India and
is considered to be one of the most spectacularly patterned mammals in
the world. Its distribution is restricted to North West Bengal, Sikkim,
and North East India where the population status is unknown, but it is
said to be declining. It is a solitary animal, the sighting of which is
extremely rare. Poaching, habitat loss and fragmentation are the major
conservation threats to this species.