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The Butaan Project - Monitoring Populations Print E-mail

Camera traps have allowed us to monitor butaan populations on Polillo in a way never attempted for any lizard species before

 

 

 

Image. All of our Trailmaster units are beyond repair and will cost $200 each to replace. You can sponsor a camera trap on Polillo and get regular updates on what it sees, and even prints of the best shots. 

ImageWe use camera traps to monitor butaan populations.We have tried many different models of camera traps, but very few are able to reocrd and photographs lizards reliably. The best model was the Trailmaster 550, which work well in the forest for about 16 months. Sending defective units to the manufacturer for repair has not solved the problems. In 2005 we had 17 working camera traps, currently we have none.


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Camera trap with no flash (800ASA film)
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Camera trap with flash (800 ASA)


Camera trapping lizards might seem harmless, but in fact the electronic flash creates considerable disturbance. Young lizards ignore camera traps but larger individuals are scared away by camera flash and either do not return or find alternative routes to fruit!!For this reason we usually set camera traps without flash. Consequently, it  can be difficult to recognise individual lizards because the pictures are dark. These problems are compounded by:

  • Shedding patterns
  • Differences in wet and dry patterns
  • Differences in film exposure

Nevertheless, we have a good knowledge of many butaan in the population.

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Probably the biggest and oldest butaan left on Polillo

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This adult male was probably killed in a trap in 2005

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Old FF, a long-term resident of the watershed reserve.

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A young butaan first recorded in 2004 that disappeared in 2006

And a better understanding of social systems in these mysterious animals.

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Two butaan leaving a tree together, July 2005
 

 

 

 

 
 

 

About Mampam
Bye Bye Butaan

 butaan1.jpg

Butaan start to visit fruiting trees before they are large enough to swallow the fruits. They make repeat journeys to trees, perhaps to reinforce memory of the position of the tree. If the youngster survives it may continue to use this tree for many decades. Fruiting trees like this are a vital resource for entire populations of butaan. Learn more >


 
Help Mampam
The Butaan Project
The Butaan Project - Background and History
butaan2.jpgThe butaan was first described to science in 1845 from a juvenile specimen collected by Hugh Cuming. It was labelled only "Philippines". It was named Varanus grayi.  No other specimens came to light for over 120 years. In the 1970s Walter Auffenberg found another specimen with a location in Luzon, established that its correct scientific name was Varanus olivaceus, and undertook a 22 month study of the species based in Bicol. His study revealed that butaan occupy a unique ecological niche and have a lifestyle quite unlike any other monitor lizard. Auffenberg used local hunters with dogs to catch the animals. Of 126 butaan caught during his study, 116 animals were killed.
Read more...
 

 

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