Authorities in Kashmir have launched a hunt for a 'large mysterious' lizard, which created panic in a village in the outskirts of the capital Srinagar.
People in Lawaypora locality are frightened for the past couple of days after an 'unusual lizard-like' creature appeared in the village. Nobody in the village knows exactly what the creature is. Rumours were rife across the city that "a great African lizard" has appeared. Others talked about the giant carnivorous Komodo dragon walking through roads in the locality.
"Scared villagers informed us about a very big reptile, something which is unheard of in the valley," said Ghulam Mohiuddin, station house officer of the concerned police station. He said wildlife officials were informed on Friday and they had now set up a trap to nab the reptile.
"We have laid a snare at the mouth of a septic trench as the residents said the creature went inside it and had not appeared since then," said wildlife warden at the nearby Hokersar wetland, Abdul Rouf.
The official said he believed the creature would probably be a monitor lizard. "If we go by what the villagers described, then I think it is surely a monitor lizard, which is usually 3 feet long. These creatures move around at night and we are hopeful we'll catch hold of it," he added.
Monitor lizards are generally large reptiles found in hot and desert areas. They have long necks, powerful tails and claws, and well-developed limbs. While most of these species are terrestrial, some can be also found on trees and in waters.
The monitor lizards are said to be carnivorous or flesh-eaters. But, Rouf said these lizards were not big enough to attack humans.
Why fear gripped the village is perhaps because such species of lizards are not found in this Himalayan region where a harsh winter can extend up-to several months. "The average size of lizards in Kashmir is 1 inch by 4 inches, almost the size of a human palm. This is the maximum," Rouf said.
Although it is not clear how the 'creature' could have reached the valley, authorities said a stray creature might have jumped into a truck ferrying goods from the outside states into Kashmir.