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Leopard skin, nails seized in Gujarat's Valsad; 7 held

Valsad: Seven persons have been arrested after the recovery of a leopard skin and nails in Gujarat's Valsad district, a forest department official said on Sunday.

They allegedly removed the skin and nails of a dead leopard and two of the accused were caught on Friday while trying to sell them to a team of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and local forest department who posed as dummy customers, Kaprada range forest officer Ankit Patel said.

The other accused were arrested from different villages in the district's Kaprada forest range the same day in an operation carried out jointly by the WCCB and forest department, he said.

The leopard carcass was found on a farmland of one of the accused, who then consulted the other accused persons and called a faith healer who suggested that they remove the feline's skin and nails for using them in rituals, the official said.

The accused did so to sell the animal's body parts for rituals and earn money and were searching for customers when the WCCB team received a tip-off, he said.

The accused included two former sarpanchs (head) of different villages, he said.

They have been booked under various sections of the Wildlife (Protection) Act.

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