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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.

Camera trap with no flash (800ASA film)
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.

Probably the biggest and oldest butaan left on Polillo

This adult male was probably killed in a trap in 2005

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

A young butaan first recorded in 2004 that disappeared in 2006

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

Two butaan leaving a tree together, July 2005






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The Butaan Project - Conservation

polillomap1.jpgThe dark green patch at center left in this unmanipulated Google Earth image is the last remaining fragment of unlogged lowland dipterocarp forest on Polillo Island, and our main study site for the last 11 years. Less than one square mile in size (220ha) and less than 100m above sea level, the Sibulan Watershed Reserve has lost much of its secondary boundary forest over the last six years through illegal and uncontrolled agricultural activities. 



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