The Hatha Jodi root is believed to bring good luck, allegedly because it looks like two praying hands. You know what also looks like two praying hands? Dried lizard penis. And poachers have noticed.
According to a statement from the nonprofit group World Animal Protection, scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University have confirmed various specimens of the “magical” root that were ordered online were actually the dried hemipenis of monitor lizards. Other examples were plastic mouldings of lizard penises. Which raises the question of why they wouldn’t just make a plastic moulding of the root. The organisation claims that examples of the scam were found on Amazon, Ebay, Alibaba, and Etsy.
Dried monitor lizard penises. Photo: Neil D’Cruze/World Animal Protection
According to the statement, customers who ordered the luck-bringing herb/lizard dong were mainly from the “Asian diaspora in the UK, other parts of Europe and the US.” The investigation of online sales began after Indian authorities raided multiple operations trafficking in these illicit goods. Both Bengal and Yellow Monitor lizard penises were found and both are protected species. The rare Hatha Jodi root can go for as much as £200 a pop on the market. So, the crimes include fraud and poaching.
World Animal Protection emphasises the cruelty that is often used in acquiring the lizard genitalia and warns that “this demand could grow to the extent that it pushes some wild populations over the edge.” The Pangolin is just one example of a species that’s threatened because of superstitious beliefs.