Thursday, 23 March 2017

Plight of Innocent Monitor Lizards

Story published - 23 Feb 2017

Monitor Lizard (varanus genus), a reptile specie which is said to be distributed all over the world, is a wonderful animal, who lives on his own, feeding upon small invertebrates (or few vertebrates as well like frogs etc. for that matter). Said that, this animal has nothing to do with humans at all, hence logically, man-animal conflict shouldn’t come into picture. But how can we forget that humans have to do with anything and everything over this planet irrespective of the fact that it bothers him or not in any ways. In south and middle east Asia (specially in India), Monitor Lizard is classified as Common Indian monitor (under varanus genere), and further seen to be distinguished in 4 main kinds, in accordance to their ecologies viz Bengal monitor, water monitor, desert monitor, yellow monitor. 
At least in India, this specie has been able to secure the Schedule II status. This happened, of course because of the sudden reduction of numbers of this wonderful specie. This lizard was said to be countless, roaming all over the sub-continent before 90’s. A study, named as “SURYEY OF THE CONSREVATION STATUS OF MONITOR LIZARDS (VARANUS Sp) IN INDIA”, done by Dr. R. J. Rao (School of Studies in Zoology), in the duration 1994-97 had rang everyone up, and compelled to think about this lizard which didn’t gained much of attention until then. His study clearly indicated that the numbers have decreased in folds.

The fact is, Monitor Lizards are truly harmless to humans in all sense. Nowhere, at least in India is heard who are fond of cooking the Lizard meat. Then what could be the reason for these killings? Well, we cannot rule out 3 different aspects though, one being Indian superstition, and the others as lack of knowledge and international trade market. India is a mass believer of superstitions. As heard and found in many parts of India, people count the lizard as a symbol of bad luck and hence they kill them soon as they see it around them. They do believe to the extent, that no woman who’s expecting, should see the lizard, else the newly born would be affected for sure and their belief is so strong that they don’t tolerate the lizard even around a corner of their town. People who are concerned about their daily office and home making, have very less knowledge about this specie. Thanks to some wildlife TV channels, that people have seen/ heard about Comodo dragons which are dangerous for sure. Unfortunately, they never heard (it attentively) and due to unfortunate body structure of this lizard (similar to Comodo) people started believing it as venomous and dangerous. This has a large impact, due to which even educated people (due to lack of proper knowledge) started killing this specie. Fatal accidents are of course another aspect, but since they happen very rare, hence mentioning/ discussing the same might not be worth. Now the real threat, is international market. Often, poachers who are caught are no way rich or out of game. They all are poor people (mostly tribals) who don’t have or want to figure out a way of income which can allow them to feed their family. They get a good amount for poaching, which is known to all of us. So, where exactly the Lizard is in demand?

The one and only nation China, is found to be a big customer for all such animals. Be it for traditional medicines or dinner plate, China purchases all such animals, and the principle of economics clearly mentions that the demand of a product calls out for supplies. And as Daily Mail editorial states – Chinese takeaways questions “Do you deliver?”


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