KARACHI: The wildlife department has rescued 75 spiny tailed lizards and four snakes, which were on sale in the Quaidabad area.
“We have released the lizards in their habitat in the Kirthar National Park on Saturday morning. They were being sold near a Dawakhana that apparently was used to make illicit drugs from reptiles,” Inspector Aijaz Noodani told Dawn.
A man, identified as Abdul Ghaffar, had been arrested while investigation into the case was being carried out, he said. “The snakes, two cobras and as many sand boas, would be released into their habitat soon.”
According to wildlife experts, both Sindh and Balochistan have remained hotspots for reptiles in the country. Balochistan has remained safe from illegal trapping and poaching and boasts a large number of reptile species, some of which are endemic.
In Sindh, Nagarparkar, Mithi and Umerkot are hotspots for snakes, besides Sanghar, Shikarpur and Nawabshah.
Experts said that the unchecked operation of jogis, particularly in the interior of Sindh was one of the major reasons behind the declining strength of many snake species in the province, besides the loss of habitat and smuggling.
The lizards are hunted for their skins and oil, made from visceral fat. The ‘hakims’ are also held responsible for the falling reptilian population as they recommend different reptilian species and their parts as a cure for several ailments.
“For some two years now, we have been taking strict action against traders involved in illicit reptile trade and the population of spiny tailed lizards is now getting stabilised in their habits across the province,” said Sindh Wildlife Conservator Javed Ahmed Mahar.
These lizards, he pointed out, performed an extremely important role that no fertilizer could play in soil fertility.
“Unlike other carnivore lizards, they are herbivorous. They build a deep network of burrows which allow oxygen to pass through the soil, enhancing soil fertility,” he explained.
Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2022