Mumbai: A 72-year-old man was caught from Malad on Saturday with the alleged possession of dried skins of 117 monitor lizards which are used in the making of ghumot, a musical instrument. The creature is classified as an endangered wildlife species.
According to the Forest Department, a tip-off was received that poached wildlife product was brought from Ahmednagar for making ghumot. Subsequently, a raid was conducted and the dried skins were found in the suspect's house and its backyard. Several ghumots were seized, too.
“We cannot estimate an exact value for the skin of this animal because it's an endangered species,” said Range Officer Rakesh Bhoir.
The suspect, Bhagvan Mandalkar, has been booked under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. He has confessed to the crime and said that he has been doing this business since the time of his grandfather and continued it even after it was banned by the government.
Traditionally, ghumot, is a clay pot, with the skin of the monitor lizard (locally known as 'gaar') stretched across the pot's mouth, forming a drumhead. “Now it's made of earthenware and fish or goat skin. In old times, it was the only instrument played in marriages and events. It is a rhythmic instrument that is not tuned or does not have a scale,” said Ainsley Pereira, founder-member of Vasai-based Ghumot Gang, which looks to revive its usage for ceremonies.
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