Four men have been arrested after police found a video of them gang-allegedly raping a Bengal monitor lizard in one of the accused's cellphone in the western India's Maharashtra's Sahyadri Tiger Reserve. According to reports, a CCTV footage shows the four men lurking around the forest after illegally entering the restricted area.
The incident took place at a village in the state's Ratnagiri district and one of them was carrying a gun for hunting, police said. The crime committed by the four accused came to light after they were booked on March 31. The Indian government in 2008 created the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve for the conservation of Bengal tigers.
Sahyadri Tiger Reserve is spread over four districts including - Satara, Kolhapur, Sangli, and Ratnagiri.
Police have identified accused as Sandeep Tukaram Pawar, Ramesh Ghag, Akshay Kamtekar and Mangesh Kamtekar.
"During the investigation, the forest officials found that the accused had allegedly raped a Bengal monitor lizard. Their act was also recorded in a mobile phone of one of the accused persons," a forest official said.
"We have recovered all the related evidence from the accused and they were granted forest department custody initially, but are out on bail now," the official added.
The accused have been asked to mark their presence before an officer probing the case every Monday, according to the official.
Reports suggest that the four accused have been charged for their crimes under various sections of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
How big is a Bengal monitor lizard?
Reportedly, Bengal monitor lizards have been categorized as reserve species under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. They can grow up to five and a half feet long and their weight can increase almost up to 16 pounds.