India: Three guides from the Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) have been arrested for poaching four monitor lizards, one mongoose and a wild boar. They were arrested on Saturday, while four others were held on Sunday.
SB Bhalavi, PTR's divisional forest officer said, "It is true; the three guides have been arrested in a case related to the poaching of a monitor lizard and further investigations are on." The species is already endangered owing to habitat loss and illegal hunting.
Rishikesh Ranjan, PTR's field director and chief conservator of forest, said, "A total of seven people have been arrested in the poaching case and three of the accused are guides from Wagholi, Pipari and Sillari."
The forest department received a tip-off about the guides, based on which the team arrested them and recovered the meat of the animal from them. The accused were produced in the court on Sunday and remanded in the forest department's custody.
Protected by law
The Indian monitor lizard is protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and any trade involving the animal or its body parts is an offence under the Act.
The lizards are usually hunted for food and also killed for leather. In some tribal hamlets, there is also a belief that the oil extracted from the lizard's body can be used as an ointment for skin injuries.
A similar case had occurred in 2015 as well, when the forest department had arrested seven people near Junona for killing the lizard for its meat.