By Aishuwarya Sudarshan
In a shocking incident on 6th December, the ugly face of illegal wildlife trade in Delhi surfaced again, this time in a large market! At about 8:30 pm, Our Helpline received a tip off about some live wild animals being sold secretly in south Delhi’s INA market.
Just as our rescue team led by Arshad left for the location, we had also alerted the Police Control Room requesting police backup at the location.
Upon reaching the market, we noticed four men negotiating with some people and arguing over a large brown sack which was moving. The police were yet to reach the location leaving us to deal with the illegal traders who if not stopped would leave soon with the live contraband!
As we tried to surround the group, we realized there were perhaps more people belonging to their group who alerted them about a possibly raid. Without the police it became difficult to chase all of them and as they started fleeing, we had to choose between rescuing the live animals in the bag and chasing the fleeing targets! Our team naturally focused on rescuing the large wriggling sack which upon opening turned out to be a very indignant four foot long monitor lizard!! It became apparent that the monitor lizard was in a soup! Or intended for one such delicacy!
Monitor lizards are found in the scrub jungles surrounding Delhi and its suburbs. Sadly these beautiful and shy reptiles are heavily poached both for their skin and meat. Their skin is used for percussion instruments and their meat and body parts are used as an aphrodisiac in Chinese traditional medicine and soup preparations. There is also local demand for the meat of this animal in winters due to ignorance caused by ritualistic and mythical beliefs. The Monitor lizard is protected under Indian Law which prohibits hunting, trading or exploitation of this animal, which is punishable by law with both imprisonment of upto 7 years and a hefty fine.
Our intelligence confirmed that the traders could have possibly smuggled this lizard from the neighboring state of Rajasthan. At the present moment, our big monitor is currently under observation and will be released in the wild once he is fit to survive on his own.
We are delighted that we could get him out of the soup he was in!
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