BENGALURU: In one of the most bizarre cases unearthed in South India, Karnataka forest officials arrested four persons trading in lizard penises. In a huge haul, 49 pieces were seized in Bababudangiri.
The male sexual organ of this protected species are dried and then sold as a rare plant root with magical and tantric properties. Preying on the superstitious beliefs of the local community, the reptile’s sex organs are termed as ‘hatha jodhi’ as it resembles two hands joined in a prayer.
Atop Bababudangiri Hills, a shopkeeper was found selling hemipenes — the two pronged sex organs of monitor lizards — a scheduled 1 species under Wildlife Protection Act (WPA). Four people have been arrested — two from Chikkamagaluru and two from Shivamogga.
On a tip-off from Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Chikkamagaluru forest officials led by Range Forest Officer Shilpa, arrested four persons in connection with trading of ‘sexual organ of monitor lizards’ in the Dattapeeta-Bababudangiri area.
RFO Shilpa, told The New Indian Express that for the past two months, investigations were on. Finally, on Thursday, two persons — Shahid and brother Naushad who owns a shop selling jaddibooti (herbs) were arrested. wo others from Shivamogga — Keema and Sudha (Hakki Pikkis) were also arrested for reportedly supplying these sex organs. They have been booked under various sections of the Wildlife Protection Act and produced in the Chikkamagaluru JMFC court.
Wildlife activist G Veeresh said, “Monitor lizards are hunted in the Bhadra region for their meat, oil and what not.” The RFO added, “They were ready to sell 1,000 pieces when we worked out a deal with them. Our interrogation has revealed that they are habitual offenders and there may be a network behind them.”
Dried penises of male monitor lizards are sold as magical plant roots as it is supposed to bring good luck. This is a protected species as it is a major controller of the insect and rodent population. Unless the lizards sliced opened, it’s not possible to distinguish whether it’s a male or a female. So, females are also killed in the process.