Hyderabad: In one of the largest such seizures, some 75 Bengal Monitor Lizards were rescued from a fish market in Machilipatnam on Monday by Andhra Pradesh forest officials.
The animals were found stuffed in 30 galvanized wire mesh boxes at the fish market by a member of the Friends of the Snakes Society who immediately informed the forest officials. They rushed to the spot and seized the animals.
According to Avinash Visvanathan, the society’s general secretary, one of their members, Arvind Kumar had chanced upon the monitor lizards when he had gone to the fish market. “We have members who are active in Machilipatnam and Visakhapatnam,” Avinash said.
Forest officials, along with local police, first shifted the cages to the Robertson Peta Police Station and after ascertaining their health, released them in the nearby Kondapally Reserve Forest. “Since the monitor lizards are apex predators in their class, care was taken to ensure they were not all released at one spot and they were released in different areas of the forest,” Avinash said.
Each of the monitor lizard was up for sale for about Rs 2,000. Monitor lizard meat is popular as people falsely believe that its consumption alleviates back pain and paralysis. Monitor lizards are protected species under Schedule I, Part II of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, and capturing them or even attempting to bait them is prohibited and carries stiff penalties.