New Delhi, India – In the place of the rare ‘hatha jodi’ root, vendors in India have been selling dried penises of the endangered monitor lizards.
The ‘hatha jodi’ root is traditionally used in religious rituals to ward off evil; the root resembles two hands joined in prayer and is supposed to bring good luck. Since the root has become so rare that it is almost impossible to find in the Indian countryside, vendors have turned to alternatives including the dried penises of monitor lizards.
“The dried lizard hemipenis looks like two hands joined in prayer and are similar to the “hatha jodi” root that people believe can ward off evil. There is a widespread belief that it saves you from court cases.” Said Jose Louise from the Wildlife Trust of India who investigates wildlife crime control.
The World Animal Protection group based in London says that the fraudsters are after both the Bengal monitor lizard and the yellow monitor lizard. Both of which are endangered and both of which carry genitals that resemble the much sought after root.
Raids by the wildlife authority are continuing in the eastern Indian state of Odisha and already dozens of dried lizards reproductive organs have been recovered. The hemipenis was confirmed to belong to the endangered lizards by scientists at the Manchester Metropolitan University. The University said, “these lizards are being illegally poached from the wild, caught in traps and snares. Some will have their throats slit of skulls smashed before their genitals are removed.”
These fraudulent roots are being sold online at disturbingly high volumes. The demand for “hatha jodi” root is putting further strain on the already endangered monitor lizards populations despite the fact that killing or even possessing the lizards is a crime and carries a sentence of up to seven years imprisonment. People in central and eastern India once hunted and ate the big lizards resulting in population decline.