Wildlife Crime Control Bureau seizures yield lizard and jackal parts, seashells | environment | Hindustan Times
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Wildlife Crime Control Bureau seizures yield lizard and jackal parts, seashells

The animals parts recovered by Wildlife Crime Control Bureau raids are derived from species that are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act.

environment Updated: Jul 23, 2017 14:42 IST
Dried monitor lizard penises passed off as Hatha Jodi.
Dried monitor lizard penises passed off as Hatha Jodi.(Courtesy: Aniruddha Mookerje/ WildCRU )

New Delhi: This week as part of its ‘Wildnet operations,’the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau conducted seizures in Noida, following raids over the past two weeks in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Orissa.

Recovered articles included 25 Hatha Jodi, 25 Siyar Singhi, 24 Sea Fan, 1 Trochus, 6 Lambis shell, 91 black cowrie, 130 white cowrie, 27 sea-shells, that are all derived from animals protected under the Wildlife Protection Act.

The Wildnet operations are conducted on the basis of monitoring of websites and online chat platforms.

“Hatha Jodi is a wonder of nature, in which two hands are joined together, as in a prayer. This is actually rooted of a very rare plant in the shape of folded hands,” says a product description on Amazon.com’s India website. “It is very useful in winning favors (sic) or winning trials.”

They may resemble joined arms but investigations by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and research funded by London-based World Animal Protection (WAP), revealed that many of the products being sold as the wondrous Hatha Jodi are actually dried Giant Monitor lizard penises. These are available in some of the biggest online retail websites like Amazon, Ebay, Alibaba, Snapdeal and Etsy.

Siyar Singhi refers to a clump of jackal hair that grows on its head. Most of these parts are believed to possess magical properties by tantric practicioners. and are promoted by many godmen. Hatha Jodi is supposed to help people in court cases among other things.

The lizard penises are being sourced from states like Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Karnataka, where the lizards are also eaten by some tribal communities. They reach markets across the country not just through online retailers but also dealers who supply them to local shops.

“There is no such thing as Hatha Jodi,” Jose Louies, head of enforcement assistance and law, Wildlife Trust of India , who participated in the raids, said, “It is only a code word for illegal monitor lizard parts.”

Four kinds of monitor lizards are found in India and all of them are Schedule I species under India’s Wildlife Protection Act 1972, which makes it an offence to conduct trade in the lizards or any of its body parts.

“Wildlife crimes being taken seriously, criminals will not be spared at any cost,”environment minister Harsh Vardhan said praising the WCCB actions.  Illegal trade in wildlife parts can lead to three to seven years imprisonment and invite fines.

Even though the raids were successful Tilottama Verma, who heads the WCCB, said that the worrying thing was that the trade was still ongoing. “We might have touched less than 1% of the trade in the parts,” she said.