Friday, 22 July 2016

Spurt in demand: Monitor lizard racket thrives – via Herp Digest


DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SHRAVAN REGRET IYER
Published Jul 6, 2016, 7:23 am ISTUpdated Jul 6, 2016, 7:23 am IST

The inter-state gang, which tried to sell the four large Bengal Monitor Lizards smuggled from Hosur, was caught by the police in Jayanagar.

Lizards were given medication by WRRC vets and  later released in the wild in the Bannerghatta National Park range.

Bengaluru: Bengal Monitor Lizards, which are a threatened species under the IUCN Red List and found on the outskirts of the city, are being increasingly sold on the roadsides along NH 44, from Krishnagiri to Bengaluru, for their meat, oil and fat, that are used in traditional treatment of bone fractures, chronic pain and other ailments.

The recent rescue of four monitor lizards smuggled from  Tamil Nadu,  by the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Bengaluru exposed the gravity of threat to this endangered species, greatly in demand for its body parts.

The inter-state gang, which tried to sell the four large Bengal Monitor Lizards smuggled from Hosur, was caught by the police in Jayanagar.  Once rescued, the lizards were given medication by WRRC vets and  later released in the wild in the Bannerghatta National Park range.

The rescue was only one of many conducted by the WRRC.  At least five monitor lizards are rescued  by it  every year, according to its members. A wildlife rescuer with the WRRC in Bengaluru,  Anand, reveals that the meat of Bengal Monitor Lizards is in demand because its believed to be very nutritious.

“Selling or buying monitor lizards is a criminal offence as they are protected  under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. But you can still see people trying to sell them on the highways especially near Krishnagiri towards Bengaluru," he observed.

Smugglers buy the lizards for Rs 1, 000 each in Tamil Nadu and sell them for Rs 5, 000 or more in Bengaluru, according to him. “The cost depends on the weight of the lizard and its gender. Its meat is used for food as many believe it is good for the muscles. Their oil and fat is extracted and sold for their medicinal properties," he said, adding that even the blood of these lizards was consumed  mixed with alcohol  by many in the city.

A raid carried out by  forest officials in 2010 in Sikkarimedu, near the Krishnagiri main highway led to the seizure of 43 monitor lizards. And in 2013,  22 monitor lizards were seized from a tribal couple near a bus stand in Krishnagiri.


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