These dried lizard penises are not good-luck charms, investigators say. Theyre just penises

NEW DELHI—Wildlife investigators from India and Britain said Tuesday they have uncovered an international fraud in which dried penises of endangered monitor lizards are being sold as a plant root regarded as a good-luck charm and used in religious rituals.The London-based group World Animal Protection said the dried penises of Bengal monitor lizards and yellow monitor lizards look similar to a rare plant root sought by people who believe it brings good luck.Wildlife authorities conducted raids in five Indian states last month and some raids are continuing, said Neil D’Cruze of WAP.While the plant has all but disappeared from the Indian countryside, wildlife traffickers have been buying the dried lizard penises and fraudulently selling them online, said the Wildlife Trust of India in New Delhi.The two lizard species are on India’s list of endangered animals, said Jose Louies, who investigates wildlife crime control at WTI.Article Continued BelowDuring raids in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, several dozen hemipenis, or paired male reproductive organs of the lizards, were recovered, he said.“The dried lizard hemipenis looks like two hands joined in prayer and is similar to the “hatha jodi” root that people believe can ward off evil,” Louies said. “There is a widespread belief that it saves you from court cases.”Scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University in England have confirmed that various specimens of the “magical” root were actually the dried hemipenis of monitor lizards, WAP said in a statement.