Krishnagiri's monitor lizards killed for 'aphrodisiac' blood
Members of a narikurava family slit the throat of a live monitor lizard to collect the reptile's blood in a glass to be sold to people for its purported aphrodisiacal properties.
Wildlife Crime Control Bureau officials said narikuravas -a mostly nomadic tribal community -trap monitor lizards in the forests of Pudukottai, Aranthangi and Palani and transport them to various parts of the state for sale for their supposedly therapeutic benefits. Worse, some hunters in Dindigul district are training hound dogs to poach wildlife, the officials said.
"The bureau conducted an awareness programme in a narikurava settlement in Shikarimedu last year," one official said. "The forest department should have continued the work, and rehabilitated them with alternative means of mak ing a livelihood, but did not.This has ensured that there has been no let up in poaching of monitor lizards and various endangered animals."
Forest officials, for their part, said they conducted a joint raid with police a while ago to crack down on poaching in the Shikarimedu area.
"We tracked down the poachers of these reptiles to Aranthangi and alerted our counterparts there about the issue," a senior forest official from Krishnagiri. Attempts by foresters to stop the poaching resulted in a scuffle in which the narikuravas beat up the forest officials. Most of the times senior officials are unaware of such incidents and, because of this, foresters don't take stringent action against poachers, the official said.
S Jayachandran of the Tamil Nadu Green Movement said several people from Karnataka come to Krishnagiri to buy monitor lizard blood, which they drink in a cocktail with alcohol. He said the forest department should not merely stop poaching by narikuravas, but also arrest customers who fuel the demand for monitor lizard blood.
"This will send a clear signal that those who support poaching should be ready to face severe consequences," he said. Another naturalist said police should confiscate the narikuravas' weapons to limit their ability to poach but, more importantly , the state should frame a proper rehabilitation programme for the narikurava community .
"If the government takes these two steps, it can combat poaching effectively , or many species that are categorised as endangered could disappear," he said