Flagrant violation of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, goes unnoticed in Machilipatnam
Monitor lizards, which are protected under the Wildlife Act, are available a dime a dozen in the local fish market much to the anguish of the diehard animal rights activists.
Poachers are bringing these lizards (called ‘udumu’ in local parlance) regularly not realising the punishment for the violation of the Act.
The price of the lizard varies depending on the demand on a given day.
None of the vendors in the fish market is willing to speak on the price tag, but it is learnt that a monitor lizard is priced at close to Rs.1,000.
The poacher, upon noticing the lensman from The Hindu, fled the scene, leaving behind the monitor lizards locked in a cage in the market, which is owned by the Machilipatnam Municipality.
None of the competent departments — the municipality, the forest, and the police — has taken note of it though the sale of monitor lizards is rampant here. People believe that the meat of these lizards has medicinal value, especially in treating hip and back aches. There is also a myth that consumption of the meat increases sexual urge!
The lizards are protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and categorised under Schedule I. The sale of monitor lizard is a cognisable offence as per the Act and offenders would have to face prosecution.
As per the Act, the culprits would face a penalty of Rs.10,000 and imprisonment of up to seven years.
When contacted, Divisional Forest Officer J. Hari Babu said that monitor lizards were usually found in the forest and hilly areas, paddy fields, coconut, and banana fields. They easily fall prey to poachers who keep visiting the agricultural fields and bushy areas.
“If people are found killing monitor lizards, the Forest Department will take action against them,” he adds.