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The Butaan Project Print E-mail

Giant frugivorous monitor lizards only live in the Philippines and are under serious threat from habitat destruction. The butaan of Polillo Island are disappearing fast! We developed a range of non-intrusive methods to study these animals on Polillo Island and have used them to explore other areas of the Philippines, with very exciting results. 


butanvideo1.jpgThe butaan has a reputation throughout its range for being delicious to eat and as a result it is often heavily hunted in degraded forests where the animals are easy to find. Very little of the forest that still exists is suitable for the butaan. On Polillo only tiny patches of forest remain and the butaan are disappearing fast. Click here to access the Butaan Project 









The butaan is endangered throughout its range but the situation on Polillo Island is critical. Very little forest remains and unprotected areas are being rapidly destroyed. When corridors between patches break down the lizards soon disappear. Click here to access the Butaan Project  




ImageThanks to vigorous publicity campaigns, most people on Polillo are now aware that the butaan is a very rare animal that is precious to the island. Hunting of the species has been greatly reduced but populations continue to plummet as habitat is lost. The Philippines has lost over 95% of its lowland forest over the last fifty years and the fragments that remain tend to be small, isolated and unsuitable for butaan.On the mainland of Luzon we have discovered new form of giant fruit-eating lizard in forests that are being logged on a massive scale. Click here to access the Butaan Project 


 Image Because giant fruit-eating lizards are so shy they are easily overlooked by scientists. New species still await discovery but many more have probably disappeared without ever being identified. The situation for the remaining populations is critical. We desperately need your help. Although the other endangered monitor lizard (the famous Komodo dragon) has received vast amounts of funding to aid its conservation, the butaan has been almost entirely neglected. Just $10 will make a difference! Please consider helping us. We will acknowledge your support here and in subsequent publications and keep you informed of all developments.

Click here to access the Butaan Project  




About Mampam
Bye Bye Butaan


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 - 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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