Nagpur: Forest Division officials in Nagpur have arrested a city Ayurvedic medicine trader for possessing organs and body parts of wildlife animals. The officials seized 18 ‘hatha jodi’ (dried copulatory organs of monitor lizards), 11 sea fans and four sandfish skinks from the trader, according to reports.
The shop owner has been identified as Mayur Madhusudan Gupta (33), who was arrested and booked under various sections of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972. Officials are investigating from whom the shop owner procured the material.
According to reports, Monitor lizards are listed under Schedule I of the WPA. Similarly, sea fans are invertebrate organisms that grow in a fan-like pattern and are found in shallow and warm waters around reefs. Sandfish skink is also a lizard that lives in sand burrows.
Monitor lizard poaching invites the same section of the law as tiger poaching. Sandfish skink, however, is not listed under the WPA, as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature checklist, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora requires a source and ownership certificate. Besides, sea fans are also listed under Schedule I.
Assistant conservator of forest Narendra Chandewar initiated the action following a tip-off on Monday. Forest officials posed as decoy customers and raided Shivshankar Agencies, Sitabuldi, and confiscated the material. In the recent years, illegal trade of alleged ‘plant root’ locally known as hatha jodi (meaning pair of arms) has increased multi-fold in several parts of India. These roots actually represent the dried and partly stained copulatory organs of monitor lizards.
Hatha jodi is used for diverse superstitious beliefs, witchcraft and black magic. On the other hand, the early utilization of monitor lizards dates back to at least 10,000 years ago, when monitor lizard body parts had several applications in traditional Indian medicines.