We’re working to stop cruelly-sourced lizard penises being unknowingly sold via major online retailers

21 June 2017

Our new research reveals that male monitor lizards’ sexual organs are fraudulently sold as tantric plant roots, believed to bring good luck. The animals are cruelly trapped, killed, and illegally-traded, before their penises are sold on the likes of Amazon, eBay, and Etsy

In collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University, the Wildlife Trust of India, and Indian Wildlife authorities, we recently uncovered the international trade of monitor lizards, cruelly exploited for their body parts.

Illegally-traded monitor lizard penises

Illegally-traded monitor lizard penises

The dried penises are fraudulently sold as ‘Hatha Jodi’, a plant root used in religious ceremonies.

We’re asking all online retailers stop selling these cruelly-sourced body parts.

Stolen from the wild

These wild animals 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. Others will still be alive during this horrendously painful process.

Our global wildlife advisor and lead scientist, Dr Neil D’Cruze, 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 unwitting customers.

"These illegal items are readily available in the UK and USA with potential street value of £50,000."

Far from lucky for lizards

Some Asian tantric practitioners in the UK, USA and Europe believe that the plant root can bring good luck, wealth and happiness, and can ward away spirits.

However, the lizards being poached for their body parts are far from lucky, and suffer immensely.

Protected animals

Most of these animals are poached in India, where any trade involving a monitor lizard or its body parts is an offence under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Two species of monitor lizard which are also traded for their parts, Bengal and Yellow, have the highest level of international legal protection.

A yellow monitor lizard

A yellow monitor lizard

Neil D’Cruze said:

"This international illegal trade is of major concern for the continued survival of the lizard species involved.

"Both Bengal and Yellow Monitor lizards are protected under Indian and international law. But even a quick search reveals hundreds of items on sale, sometimes at prices over £200 apiece. If left unchecked, this demand could grow to the extent that it pushes some wild populations over the edge."

To help protect lizards and end this cruel trade, we’re approaching all major international online retailers to request that they remove all illegal monitor lizard body parts sold as ‘Hatha Jodi’ from their websites.

We were shocked at the sheer audacity and scale of this illegal wildlife trade.

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