The Indian monitor lizard has been in demand in some parts by traders. Photo: iStock.

In a bizarre case that made headlines in India, four people who were selling dried lizards’ penises, and telling their customers the product was a rare plant root with magical and tantric properties, were arrested by forest officers in India on Sept. 27.

After receiving a tip-off from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, forest officers of Chikkamagaluru arrested the four on suspicion they were involved in selling the sexual organs of male monitor lizards in the Dattapeeta-Bababudangiri area, the New Indian Express reported.

Range Forest Officer Shilpa, the leader of the operation, said a two-month investigation bore fruit when brothers Shahid and Naushad – who sold tantric herbs – were arrested last Thursday. Lizard penis suppliers Keema and Sudha were also arrested.

They will be charged under different sections of the Wildlife Protection Act and will be tried at the JMFC Court in Chikkamagaluru.

Wildlife activist G Veeresh said monitor lizards in the Bhadra area were poached for their meat, oil and other body parts. Officer Shilpa added that interrogations revealed a possible network behind the four.

The private parts of male monitor lizards are marketed as having magical properties that bring good luck. The lizard is a protected species in India. It is impossible to determine if a lizard is male or female without cutting it open, which results in female lizards being killed as well.

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