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Online scam: Dried lizard penises being sold as 'magic root'

| Updated: Jun 21, 2017 03:46 IST

London [U.K.], June 20 (ANI): Everyone is aware of the stream of bizarre drugs available online to increase sexual prowess and desire, but a recent case stands out as the classic example of 'it happens only in India'. A team of investigators and scientists from India and the UK have uncovered a major international fraud of dried lizard penises which is being sold on Amazon, Ebay, Alibaba, Snapdeal and Etsy among others and being passed off as Hatha Jodi, a tantric plant root. According to a statement from the nonprofit group World Animal Protection, scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University in England have confirmed various specimens of the "magical" root that were ordered online were actually the dried hemipenis of monitor lizards. Monitor Lizard Hemipenis is being passed off as tantric plant roots also known as Hatha Jodi to unwitting customers via major online retailers including Amazon, Ebay, Alibaba, Snapdeal and Etsy among others. Hatha Jodi, a plant root, is marketed as a good luck charm and to ward away spirits and is widely sold among Asian diaspora in the UK, other parts of Europe and the US.Tantric practitioners strongly believe that Hatha Jodi, a plant root, if appropriately energised by a guru, can change a person's life bringing immense wealth and happiness. Gajender K Sharma, India Country Director, World Animal Protection, said: "We were shocked at the sheer audacity and scale of this illegal wildlife trade. Deceitful dealers claiming to sell holy plant root labelled as "Hatha Jodi", are in fact peddling dried lizard penis to their unwitting customers. These illegal items are readily available in the UK and USA with potential street value of £50,000 GBP". These lizards are being illegally poached from the wild, caught in traps and snares. Some will have their throats slit or their skulls smashed in before their genitals are removed for use as 'Hatha Jodi' and others will still be alive when this process begins, with no remorse to the pain they endure. Hatha Jodi plant is rarely found in remote areas of Nepal and Central India and now laboratory tests carried out by scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University has revealed evidence to suggest that customers are being duped and independent tests by Indian labs have confirmed the suspicion. Collaborating scientist Dr David Megson, Manchester Metropolitan University said: "These dried 'plant roots' were in fact derived from Indian monitor lizards. However, the plot thickened even further when tests revealed that some of these items are actually plastic mouldings of monitor lizard genitalia". The investigation of online sales began after Indian authorities raided multiple operations trafficking in these illicit goods. A joint team of the Wildlife Trust of India and federal Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), Crime Branch of State Police and Forest department conducted raid sin the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bhubaneswar,Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan. The price of these illegal items was stated to range from £5-50 GBP apiece with price being dictated by their size. A haul of 210 Hatha Jodi, including hemipenis from Bengal and Yellow Monitor Lizards, were seized from a house in Bhubaneswar. So, the crimes include fraud and poaching. All Monitor lizards are Schedule I animals and any trade involving it or its body parts is a national offence under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Both the Bengal and Yellow Monitor lizard are also listed under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna.wild populations over the edge." World Animal Protection is an international non-profit animal welfare organization with offices in 14 countries. (ANI)