Ghumats made of monitor lizard in high demand despite ban

Notwithstanding the ban, many customers in Ponda still prefer Ghumats made of monitor lizard skin rather to Ghumats with goat skin.
However, when informed about the ban on monitor lizard skin, people promptly opt for Ghumats with goat skin.
Monitor lizards are protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act and categorised under Schedule I. Poaching of monitor lizard is prohibited and can attract a fine of Rs 10,000 and imprisonment up to seven years.
In August, this year, Ponda forest officials arrested three people in connection with the illegal trade of monitor lizard skin. Shirkant Naik Shirodkar (41) and Ganjanan Kotambikar (54) from Ponda were arrested on charges of selling Ghumats made of monitor lizard skin, while Rajaram Gaude (39) from Caranzole-Valpoi was arrested for allegedly supplying monitor lizard skin. They were later released on bail.
The forest officials had recovered 20 Ghumats made of monitor lizard skin and metal wire, a torch and battery used in hunting monitor lizard and investigations are still in progress.
As an alternate to monitor lizard skin, the Ghumat makers now use goat skin.
“People look for Ghumats with monitor lizard. We have stopped selling Ghumats with monitor lizard skin as it is banned,” said a trader selling Ghumats at Ponda market.
“People initially hesitate to buy Ghumats with goat skin, but when they are told of ban on monitor lizard skin, they promptly go for Ghumats with goat skin,” added the trader.
According to Ponda Range Forest Officer Lourenco Dias, they have been monitoring the Ponda market for possible sale of monitor lizard skin as during this time of the year there is a demand for this traditional musical instrument.
“People are now aware of the ban on poaching monitor lizard. We organised various awareness drives and I feel it has helped us a lot. We are monitoring the Ponda market area as during this time of the year there is huge demand for Ghumats with monitor lizard skin,” added Dias. [H]