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Savannah Monitors Lizards are Not Captive Bred Print E-mail

Image Juvenile savannah monitor lizards are needed in large numbers for the pet trade, who want them as cheaply as possible. They are collected as eggs dug up from nests or from recently caught gravid females, or dug from burrows at hatchlings. The pet trade calls animals collected as hatchlings "wild caught" and animals collected other ways "ranched, farmed" or "captive born". These terms are intended to mislead consumers into thinking the trade is more sustainable, whereas in fact it is more profitable and much more damaging to wild populations.

 

 

 

ImageThe pet trade pefers to catch gravid females because they pay the collectors less and can market freshly hatched babies early in the season when demand is high and suplly is low. After the females have laid eggs they are simply dumped and have almost no chance of survival. Even the least educated hunters in the world know that hunting the pregnant females is not sustainable. Avoid ranched and captive hatched animals, and when dealers claim their animals are captive bred, ask to see proof of them hatching.

The trade in wild caught savannah monitor lizards is not of global conservation concern because the range of the species is vast and pet trade collecting occurs over a relatively small area.  But the same techniques are used for Indonesian species of monitor lizard that occur on only tiny islands. Collection of endemic monitor lizards from small isands for the pet trade is a very serious threat to their survival.

 
 

 

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The Butaan Project
Varanus bitatawa

Varanus bitatawa is the third species of  monitor lizard to be recognised by science that belongs to the "Pandan Biawak" group,  all of which are of at least as great a conservation concern as the Komodo dragon, but receive virtually none of the attention. Pandan Biawak occur only in lowland dipterocarp forest. The first species (Varanus olivaceus or Butaan) was discovered in 1845 and not seen alive by a scientist until the late 1970s. The next species (Varanus mabitang or Mabitang) was discovered in 2001 and in 2010 Varanus bitatawa (Butikaw or Bitatawa) was described. Other species of frugivorous monitor lizards may remain undescribed, but many may have  gone extinct without ever having been recognised.

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