• Share to Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Email
    • Print

May 3, 2017

Reward of 50,000 INR offered for nabbing monitor lizard abusers in Tamil Nadu

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the HSI/India tip line +91 7674-922044

Humane Society International/India

  • Bengal monitor (Varanus bengalensis). Aditya "Dicky" Singh/Alamy

Humane Society International/India is offering a reward of 50,000 INR for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the persons shown committing a violent act against a monitor lizard.

A video shared with HSI/India, showed two persons forcing a monitor lizard off a palm tree while yelling “catch it” in Tamil. The video shows them beat the animal off the tree. One man then proceeds to grab and twist the lizard, tying the tail around the creature’s neck. The manner in which the perpetrators handle the animal indicates that the lizard may have suffered severe injuries, such as limb and joint fractures.

The monitor lizard (Varanus bengalensis) is a protected species under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. As predators, they play a vital role in the ecosystem and their mass hunting across the south Indian states has an adverse effect on the food chain. These animals are hunted due to the popular misbelief that eating the meat of these lizards imparts super-human strength. It is also believed that drinking the blood of these lizards acts as an aphrodisiac- this claim too is not supported by scientific evidence. These lizards are hunted en-masse, especially across parts of Tamil Nadu and sold across the border into Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Local tribes, such as Hakki-Pikki, are largely engaged in this trade.

Sumanth Bindhumadhav, wildlife campaign manager of HSI/India said, “Monitor lizards are a Schedule I species, which means they are warranted the same level of protection that tigers and elephants receive. Unfortunately, due to the superstitions associated with the species, they are ruthlessly hunted and killed. Anyone with information that will lead us to the perpetrators of this violence is requested to call us. We are hoping that this reward will motivate anyone with information about this offence to talk to us.”

HSI/India has been working to mitigate human-animal conflict issues in the country through engagement with community, education and awareness and sensitization training of the Forest Department. In the past, HSI/India has been successful in identifying and facilitating the arrest of the culprits of Kerala dog bestiality and New Delhi Green Park Metro dog stabbing cases, the case of puppies burnt alive in Hyderabad and other criminals.

Media Contact: Alokparna Sengupta, asengupta@hsi.org