Dec 15, 2001 Daniel Bennett
Conservation of Monitor Lizards in the 21st Century

jeffb being the moderartor that gives me the first option on questions so let me start...
jeffb Daniel how long have you been working with monitors?
mampam Since 1986, but it took me til 1990 to get started
jeffb (Danile when you are done answering please type next )

I've collected water monitors off the eastern coast of Sabah, Malaysia and have seen them coming out of the surf. How far do you think they are able and willing to travel in salt water?
mampam Then I started with the Soviet Union Institute of Nature Conservation
mampam looking at Varanus griseus caspius in Turkmenistan
mampam They cam go a llong way through the sea
mampam thats what makes it such a brillnat coloniser
BradK any data on distances?
mampam I think the ones that invaded Karakatoa after the exlosions must have gone 20-40 miles
mampam the furthest from the coast I've ever seen them is about 4 miles

what effect does the capture of wild varanids for the pet trade have on the wild populations of these animals, particularly the more 'obscure' Indonesian species. In your opinion, of course
mampam For animals on continents it isn't a problem as far as I've been able to tell
mampam The new Infonesian species are a problem, because all we know about them is that they probably have very resricted ranges
mampam a lot of the time we don't even know which islands they live on
mampam so in theory there is a risk from overexploitation of species that have very small overall ranges
mampam if they only live on a 10 square mile island any exploitation is a threat
mampam the real problem is that nobody knows where these animals are from
mampam CITES treat such problems this way
mampam if you don't know you are justified in preuming the worst
mampam on that basis there are strong cases for making a lot of Indonesian monitors appendix 1

4 Daniel, John Hogston here...were you working with dr. tsellarius in turkmenistan?
mampam No
mampam I wish I had done
mampam his work was completely unlike anybody elses
dragonnews 4 any info on mcf of albumin in odatria?
mampam Unfortunately I'd finished before he got started
mampam I'm a big fan of his methods
mampam what?
dragonnews 4 microcompliment fixation
dragonnews 4 of albumin
mampam for those that don't know, tsellarius habituated caspian monitors, so that they were not scared by his presence
mampam and made a series of unique observations
dragonnews 4 dna sequencing to associate correlations
mampam it isn't something I've worked on, I'm not sure how relevant it would be to conservation
dragonnews 4 with odatria members in PNG and Australia...
mampam albumin is a protein not a nucleic acid
mampam but we digress, I fear
dragonnews 4 thanks, Daniel

goannaman Hi Daniel, do you think there will be conservation policies aimed at indigenous peoples and that protect against habitat destruction
mampam I think there will be, but how effective they can be really depends on persuading people
mampam that monitor lizards and the like are worth saving
mampam It's not easy, especially considering how poor the relevant countries are
mampam if we look at the main exporters of monitors (live and skins) over the klast few decades
mampam chad
mampam mali
mampam sudan
mampam Indonesia
mampam Philippines
mampam Bangladesh
mampam it reads a lot like the list of counttries with lowest life expectancy
mampam and highest child mortality
mampam the problems in those places are too great for monitor lizard conservation to be a priority
mampam and the worst thing that couldbe done would be just to protect the lizards and imprison people for poaching them
mampam So it would need to be done very sensitively
mampam and encourage people to use lizards rather than just leave them alone

jefe You said nobody knows where these (some indonesian species) are comming from. Since they are comming in, somebody knows where they are. How much do you try to utilize local collectors (fishermen etc) to find the local of the species and habitat they utilize (and then begin your work from there)?
mampam All the time, but it hasn't been possible in Indonesia
mampam for the following reasons,
mampam Most animals are exported from Bali or Jakarta
mampam but they come through a set of intermediaries
mampam middlemen based on outer islands, particularly Ambon
mampam . They buy the animals from other middlemen
mampam who get them from fishermen who collect them
mampam I think its unlikely that the fishermen tell the buyers where individual animals come from
jefe what about just asking the fishermen?
mampam for one the buyer wouldn't be interested,, for another it woul;d be bad business sense if they are fnding something rare
jefe do you think they really profit from the rarity of them?
mampam Finding those particular fishermen hasn't been possible
mampam I have tried butwas prevented by political instability
mampam A lot f people consider the remoter indonesian islands to be dangerous for visitors
mampam I thoink to find them you would need the help of at least the intermediates who sell animals to exporters
mampam but the exporters have no idea where the creatures are coming from
mampam I'm sure of that
jefe thanks
mampam pleasure

What is the most enandgered monitor or will soon be the most endangered
jeffb What is the most endangered monitor
Herper567 yeah
mampam That's a tricky one
Herper567 or soon to be
mampam IF any one of these new Indonesian monitors lives only on a few very small silands
mampam they are probably strong contendors
mampam otherwise the new black olivaceus animal from Panay
mampam its clearly restricted to forests, which are very rare on that island
Herper567 Haven't heard about it
mampam It looks like olivaceus but its jet black
mampam and libves in eastern Panay
mampam only one specimen is known
mampam but as for lizards we know
Herper567 Wow
Herper567 True
mampam I'd like to see some concern about becarri
mampam IF it only lives on the Aru Islands I'd be concerned about trade in the species
mampam I get the feeling it is a mangrove dweller
mampam the Aru Islands should probably be completely protected
mampam and all animal export banned
mampam they are very small and extrememly special
mampam everything is endemic
mampam and virtually unstudied

i have started taking interest in monitors and i was wondering, if i were to get a monitor, what kind should i get? (ps: i have owned iguanas, geckos, and bearded dragons if that helps)
mampam From a conservation point of view thats a very interesting problem
mampam I could suggest one of two things
mampam get a captive bred lizard because then you are having no impact on wild populations. It would also give you the chance
mampam to keep a small (odatrian) species that might (?) be more fun
mampam or buy a wild lizard from a country that has plenty of them and needs to generate foreign currency
mampam countries like Ghana have started taking a real interest in reptile populations, simply because of the massive volume of pet exports
mampam Overall I'd probably suggest you got an acanthurus]
mampam captive bred, nice and clean, lots of fun

Gday Daniel, got an email from Rafe today, he's gonna send me reprints of his paper on reptiles of Luzon, which i think will be interesting (have you read it?). Also are you sure (just a thought that occured to me) that the airport at Ambon is even open now? It was closed for a while i thought, not sure if they have reopened, i havent emailed Walter yet, but i will do that sometime today. Want me to email Frank Y as well or not bo
mampam It may still be closed
mampam you should email everyone as much as possible
mampam until we get somewhere
TimJ will do

Hi, Daniel. Nice to finally be able to chat with you :). Obviously, there are more wc v. salvator on the market than cb. In your opinion, is that due to thier large size and the room needed to house a group or to thier difficulty to breed in captivity? In an ideal world they would all be captive bred, and we need to know what the problem is in order to fix it.
mampam I think the main reason, quite aparyt from the logistical difficulties of housing huge lizards, is the economics of it
mampam you could spend a lot of money raising a few ordinary water monitors in captivity
mampam or pay a fisherman $2 for some spectacular creature and ship it to the US
mampam For salvator and the like I'm not convinced captive breeding would be very helpful
mampam unless it concentrated on salvator "types" like cumingi
mampam or other forms that are reputed to exist on only very small islands
mampam Richard Shine looked at the populations on Sumatra
mampam where very heavy harvesting for skins take place
mampam there didn't seem to be a problem
mampam same for the niloticus populations around Lake Chad
mampam there are so many lizards there that 30,000 per year has no effect
mampam thats why monitors are so valuable to people
mampam so for salvator I'd like to see efforts made to pinpoint small islands where the animals are "different"
mampam and efforts made to breed them in captivity
Stryder I'll have to look into that. Thank you.
mampam I don't think breeding animals from Sumatra or Sulawesi or Malaysia is of consetrvation importance
mampam although I do think its a very good thing to do if you can
mampam next

TokayKeeper I know with some of the Nephrurus geckos, in particular the Nephrurus levis group, many weak hatchlings and deformities are arising due to limited diverse blood lines. Is this same thing a possibility of concern with Varanus acanthurus, or even other CB Australian monitors for that matter, in the future? Honestly I'd like to see certain breeders allowed maybe a few WC animals too keep things healthy and diverse that way we will have heal
TokayKeeper ...CB stock
mampam OK, well problems with inbreeding occur when animals have single copies of genes that are fatal (in some way) when two copies are present
mampam inbreeding is bad because if two animals with the same bad gene mate the offsping are likely to get a copy from each parent
mampam its well dovcumented in a few animals, paryticularly people
mampam but as far as I'm aware it hasn't been a problem with monitor lizards
mampam zoos think it is, which is why they keep getting more wild Komodo dragons
mampam whoich I think is greedy and unnecessary and unjustified
mampam so until important numbers of these deleterious recessive alleles are know
mampam inbreeding can't be considered a problem

Hi Daniel - we're presently facing B. marinus invasions here in the Northern Territory, and varanid species are expected to decline sharply. However, no varanid has yet gone extinct in Oz due to toads. Do you think the lizards are learning to avoid toads, or simply being selected down to those that are wary of them? Varanids must be good at population recovery - there must be some good examples of recovery following sharp declines?
mampam What an interesting question, thanks
mampam First I'd like to see evidence that the lizards die when they eat marine toads
mampam I've heard that indicus do die, but I know that salvator (in the Philippines) eat them no problem
AdamB There is some evidence (of some species), and there is also documented population decline (again, of some species) presumably due to toads - differing susceptibility, perhaps due to size
mampam I think this is a problem that will effect a lot of snakes as well as monitors
mampam but I think it would be important to establish, by experiment
mampam that monitors and other reptiles do die from eating these toads
mampam It could save a great deal of time
mampam as far as them rebouncing after sharp declines
mampam Frank and others have shown that they have the metabolism to do that quite spectacularly
mampam and if any lizard could learn to avoid toads
mampam it would be the monitors
mampam I've been hearing a lot about this for years, but I've seen voirtually nothing in the way of hard data
mampam The little I've seen of these toads makes me think the problem might be overstated in some places
mampam I doint undetrshand why the toads don't live in forests either
AdamB Great stuff Daniel - I'll contact you about this later, if you don't mind :)
mampam yes please
crocdoc_pass_lunch they live in forests in their native habitat
TimJ they live in forests here too
TimJ seen them in rainforest

allthough superficially morphologicaly similar at least externally how closely are varanids related to lanthonotus borneensis Or even Heloderms?
mampam In the Philippines they are everywhere except the forests
TimJ odd
mampam I think the relationship with Lanthonotus is probably close
mampam and I think that animal is a massive conservation concern
CDEEJAY are they still as rare as allways?
mampam at least someone needs to proove that it is rare, or not
mampam as for heloderms, the relationship is Cretaceous
mampam so it's been a long time
CDEEJAY could the enviroment in which lanthonotus lives make it seem rare?
mampam there are some early monitor fossil teeth with those grooves on them
CDEEJAY interesting
mampam yes, I think thats the case for many animals
mampam if it likes very muddy swamps not many people are going to find it
mampam but there's always someone ridiculing other people's claims that a particular animal is rare
mampam unless it is demonstrated that the animal is actually common
mampam we must presume the worst
CDEEJAY thank you

I sure would like some Perenties free ranging my yard. do you think there is a chance that
Herpo Australia might ever loosen up and allow the export of legally cb/ch animals?
Kee-Low i hope not
mampam Maybe, but even if they do I suspect they will miss the boat
mampam By the time they open up there will be plenty of animals bred outside Australia
jeffb yes... don't send us any more bearded dragons please
jeffb ;)
mampam i HOPe they don't ever allow captive hatched animals out
Herpo new bloodlines would be nice, and I tire of depending on the germans and dutch to do the dirty work
mampam its a very suspicious practise, all that captive hatched business
Kee-Low you keep yours, we'll lets ours eat fresh road kill
TimJ hear hear lol

Well Daniel its (;oopm here and I would like to thank you for spending time with us tonight
jeffb 9:00pm
mampam its been a pleasure
mampam thanks for listening
TimJ seeya mate
Kee-Low very informative
muha Thanks for coming daniel!
mampam i think i';ll stay for the crocodiles
jeffb We hope to have you back soon