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Investigations on Distribution, Occurrence and Threats of Varanus griseus caspius (Eichwald, 1831) at the North-Eastern Periphery of its Geographical Range (Kazakhstan)

  • institute of zoology
  • Institute of Zoology, Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Abstract and Figures

Studies in 2008 – 2016 clarified the northeastern border of the range of the subspecies Varanus griseus caspius (Eichwald, 1831) within Kazakhstan territory and provided the data on its occurrence. New data showed that the monitor is wide-spread in more eastern regions than it was known previously, reaching as far as Saryagash town (Southern Kazakhstan Region). At the north-eastern periphery of its geographical range, desert monitor inhabits turfed hilly sands, foothill steppes, gullies and residual mountains. Occurrence on road surveys was 0.02 – 0.1, and 0.3 – 1.3 on walking routes. The major threats to the desert monitor in Kazakhstan is a direct destruction by humans. Between 2008 and 2016, in total, we encountered 28 dead specimens on the road. The interviews showed that near shepherds’ houses in Kyzylkum Desert about one to two desert monitors are killed every year. For the first time for Kazakhstan has been obtained information about illegal hunting of V. griseus for alternative medicine purposes. The organization of specially protected natural areas on territories most favorable for desert monitor, alongside with systematic advocacy of their protection among the local population are recommended.
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DOI: 10.30906/1026-2296-2019-26-4-185-200
OF Varanus griseus caspius (EICHWALD, 1831) AT THE NORTH-EASTERN
Marina A. Chirikova,1Yulia A. Zima,1Mark V. Pestov,2
Boris M. Gubin,3and Andrey V. Kovalenko1
Submitted October 2, 2017
Studies in 2008 2016 clarified the northeastern border of the range of the subspecies Varanus griseus caspius
(Eichwald, 1831) within Kazakhstan territory and provided the data on its occurrence. New data showed that the
monitor is wide-spread in more eastern regions than it was known previously, reaching as far as Saryagash town
(Southern Kazakhstan Region). At the north-eastern periphery of its geographical range, desert monitor inhabits
turfed hilly sands, foothill steppes, gullies and residual mountains. Occurrence on road surveys was 0.02
0.1 spec./km, and 0.3 – 1.3 spec./km on walking routes. The major threats to the desert monitor in Kazakhstan is
a direct destruction by humans. Between 2008 and 2016, in total, we encountered 28 dead specimens on the road.
The interviews showed that near shepherds’ houses in Kyzylkum Desert about one to two desert monitors are
killed every year. For the first time for Kazakhstan has been obtained information about illegal hunting of V.
griseus for alternative medicine purposes. The organization of specially protected natural areas on territories most
favorable for desert monitor, alongside with systematic advocacy of their protection among the local population
are recommended.
Keywords: Varanus griseus; Kazakhstan; northern boundary of distribution; biotope; threats.
Rare and endangered species are the most vulnerable
elements of biodiversity, susceptible to habitat destruc-
tion, traffic, and other results of human impact on the en-
vironment. Prerequisites for the development of effective
conservation measures include information on their geo-
graphical distribution, occurrence, the most favorable
territories and main risk factors.
Varanus griseus (Daudin, 1803), the desert monitor
lizard, is wide-spread in North Africa, India, Southwest
Asia, Pakistan and throughout Central Asia. Three sub-
species are currently recognized: V. g. koniecznyi Mer-
tens, 1942, V. g. griseus (Daudin, 1803) and V. g. caspius
(Eichwald, 1831) (Mertens, 1954; Bennett, 1995;
Ananjeva et al., 2004; Sindaco and Jeremèenko, 2008).
V. g. caspius (Fig. 1) inhabits territories from the
eastern coast of the Caspian Sea, in the deserts of Central
Asia, to Northern Iran, Western and Southern Afghani-
stan, and Western Pakistan (Leviton and Anderson, 1970;
Bennett, 1995; Khan, 2004). The northern border of their
geographical range lies across Kazakhstan territory (Bru-
shko, 1995; Sindaco and Jeremèenko, 2008). This sub-
species is the only representative of the Varanidae, the
family of more than 70 species, that is found living in Ka-
zakhstan and other Central Asian countries (Uetz et al.,
V. griseus is listed in the Red Book of Kazakhstan
(Brushko and Chirikova, 2010) as an endangered; in the
Red Book of Uzbekistan (Nuridzhanov, 2009) as an en-
dangered, patchily distributed Central Asian subspecies;
in the Red Book of Kyrgyzstan (Mil’ko and Panfilov,
2006) as an endangered subspecies represented by scarce
populations; in the Red Book of Tajikistan (Kurbonov
1026-2296/2019/2604-0185 © 2019 Folium Publishing Company
Russian Journal of Herpetology Vol. 26, No. 4, 2019, pp. 185 – 200
1Department of Ornithology and Herpetology, Institute of Zoology
MES RK, Almaty, al-Farabi av., 93, 050060, Kazakhstan;
2The Society for the Protection of Amphibians and Reptiles at the
Environmental Center “Dront,” Nizhny Novgorod, 603000, PO Box
631, Russia; e-mail:
3International Fund for Houbara Conservation, UAE Almaty, Kazakh-
stan; e-mail:
and Toshev, 2015) as an endangered species; and in Ap-
pendix I of the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Currently, this species does not have a Red List status
according to the IUCN criteria (http://www.iucnredlist.
org). We provided new information on the status of popu-
lations in Kazakhstan at the IUCN’s meeting on reptiles
in April 2016 in St. Petersburg to help in this work.
Various studies of V. g. caspius in Central Asia were
undertaken between 1960 and 1990 (Bogdanov, 1960;
Jadgarov, 1968; Riumin, 1968; Said-Aliyev, 1979; Ataev,
1985; Bondarenko, 1989; Tsellarius et al., 1991; 1995;
1997; Tsellarius and Tsellarius, 1996, 1997). At the same
time, the subspecies has been studied in Kazakhstan (Pa-
raskiv, 1956; Brushko et al., 1990; Brushko, 1995). In the
middle of the 20th century, there were only five known
areas of its occurrence, concentrated in the southern part
of the Kyzylkum Desert (Paraskiv, 1956) (this area is
now part of Uzbekistan). As a result of the studies by
Z. K. Brushko and colleagues in the late 1980s and early
1990s (Gvozdev, 1986; Brushko et al., 1990; Brushko,
1995), it was revealed that the geographical range in Ka-
zakhstan is significantly broader than previously thought,
covering the whole eastern part of the Kyzylkum Desert
and extending as far as the eastern bank of the Syrdarya
River. Additionally, the same authors obtained informa-
tion on the species population density.
This paper summarises the known information and
presents new data on the distribution, preferred biotopes,
occurrence of V. griseus at its north-eastern periphery in
Kazakhstan, and, additionally, shows human impact on
their population.
To determine the current distribution of V. griseus at
the north-eastern periphery of its geographical range,
several field trips to Kyzylorda and South Kazakhstan
Regions of Kazakhstan were undertaken: eastern part of
the Kyzylkum Desert (in April 2008, June 2009, May and
August September 2012, May-June 2014, May – be-
ginning of June and August – beginning of September
2015, and May 2016), northern part of Kyzylkum Desert
(May 2016), the eastern bank of Syrdarya River (Izaku-
duk Sands, Beltau and Darbaza residual mountains, Sary-
agash town) (June 2016), the western part of Muyunkum
Desert (August – beginning of September 2015). The
routes and seasons of the research are shown in Fig. 2.
Total survey distance along the roads in the south-eastern
part of the Kyzylkum Desert was over 3000 km, and in
addition to that, there was 250 km of walking routes. The
length of road surveys in Northern Kyzylkum Desert was
406 km; in the Muyunkum Desert it was 150 km; plus
300 km along the eastern bank of the Syrdarya River.
For each record of the desert monitors’ traces (i.e.,
prints of paws and tail, lairs, excrements, remains of
molting skin, and remains of dead animals), the follow-
ing data were collected: coordinates, date, time of day
186 Marina A. Chirikova et al.
Fig. 1. Male Varanus griseus. North-Eastern Kyzylkum, 2015. Photo by M. V. Pestov.
(Fig. 2). In order to determine coordinates of the records
from literature sources and survey of local people, topo-
graphic maps in the program SAS Planet were used
Various methods were used to study the occurrence
of V. griseus. The line transect method (route surveys)
was used most often; the results were then recalculated as
values per hectares (Bondarenko, 1989; Khodzhayev,
1989; Brushko, 1995). However, the most objective data
on abundance of V. griseus can be obtained by recording
on test field sites. Comparison of data on abundance
obtained by different methods should be carried out cau-
tiously (Tsellarius et al., 1991). According to our obser-
vations (unpublished data), data on line transects and its
recalculation (per hectares) can distort the actual abun-
dance. We have surveyed a fairly large area, so we have
conducted only route surveys (road routes and walking
routes), and, as an indicator of the species abundance,
in this paper we give the number of specimens per 1 km
(referred to below as occurrence).
During road surveys, desert monitors were observed
up to 10 m away on each side of the vehicle, and short-
term walking trips up to 1–4km were made periodi-
cally; the width of the walking routes ranging from 10 to
20 m, depending on the density of the vegetation cover
and features of the relief. To the north of the residual
mountains Karaktau (eastern edge of the Kyzylkum
Desert), multiple records of monitors were collected dur-
ing road surveys of 20 100 km length, and walking
routes of 311 km (Table 1).
ArcMap 9.3 program was used to create a map for
analysis of the desert monitor’s distribution. We used
the occurrence records from three major sources: pub-
lished data (Gvozdev, 1986; Brushko et al., 1990; Bru-
shko, 1995), personal communications from specialists
(forestry enterprise employees, KazTransGas JSC em-
ployees, environmental agency inspectors, border control
Investigations on Distribution, Occurrence and Threats of Varanus griseus caspius in Kazakhstan 187
Fig. 2. Study routes in Kazakhstan.
188 Marina A. Chirikova et al.
TABLE 1. Results of the Accounting of the Desert Monitor
Survey location Period (Route) Route
distance, km
traces specimens/km
W of Shardara Reservoir,
along Uzbekistan border April 2008 45 1 0.022
20 – 24.06.2009 200 2 21 0.11
22 – 28.05.2012 150 3 3 2 0.053
21 – 24.05.2015 120 3 4 0.058
:Average 0.06
SW of Karaktau Mountains,
eastern border of Kyzylkum Desert** 18.05.2015 10 1 1 0.2
27.05.2015 10 1 1 0.2
13.05.2016 7111 0.42
14.05.2016 6 2 1 0.5
15.05.2016 5 2 1 0.6
:Average 0.76
Baymakhan well** 29.06.2016 3 4 1.33
SE of Karaktau Mountains** 01.07.2016 11 3 0.27
:Average 0.8
N of Karaktau Mountains,
road to Tabakbulak settlement)* 14.05.2014 50 2 0.04
15.05.2014 50 2 0.04
22.05.2014 50 2 0.04
23.05.2014 50 3 0.06
29.05.2014 50 5 0.1
17.06.2014 50 2 0.04
21.06.2014 50 1 0.02
17.05.2015 50 1 0.02
18.06.2015 50 2 0.04
27.06.2015 50 3 0.04
28.05.2016 45 3 2 0.11
31.05.2016 50 1 1 0.04
01.06.2016 280 7 4 0.04
02.06.2016 40 3 2 0.12
03.06.2016 50 1 0.02
04.06.2016 50 2 1 0.06
05.06.2016 50 1 0.04
10.06.2016 50 3 1 0.08
12.06.2016 60 3 0.05
19.06.2016 50 1 0.04
20.06.2016 68 7 0.1
22.06.2016 60 2 1 0.05
23.06.2016 50 1 1 0.02
:Average 0.052
N of Karaktau Mountains ** 03.07.2016 3 4 1.3
04.07.2016 3 2 0.7
:Average 1.0
Kyzylorda Region, NE area (40 km SW
of Zhanakorgan settlement) 26 – 27.05.2012 80 1 0.012
Kyzylorda Region, NE of Kyzylkum border
(20 km to S of Bulanbaybayuy settlement) 28.05.2015 23 2 0.086
29.05.2015 23 2 0.086
:Average 0.086
From Uzbekistan border north to 42° N 25 – 27.05.2015 80 1 3 0.05
Darbaza mountain area** 04.05.2016 6 4 0.66
* Road monitoring by car (along the roads with solid cover).
** Walking surveys.
staff, and zoologists) and local residents (60 people), and
our own unpublished field data (observation of speci-
mens, prints of paws and tail, dens, excrements, remains
of molting skin, and remains of dead animals). Published
data is marked on the map with black dots, personal com-
munications from specialists and local residents — with
yellow dots, and our own unpublished field data — with
red dots. Besides, we identified the reasons for mortality
of V. griseus and the local residents’ attitude toward these
All captured monitors were photographed from sev-
eral perspectives. Their sex, body length (SVL) and tail
length (TL) were determined. Statistical analyses were
performed using Statistica 10.0 program.
Distribution of V. griseus in Kazakhstan
Figure 2 presents a map with the known places of
where the desert monitor has been observed. Published
data is represented by 48 points, data received through
the survey — 20 points, and the places where we spotted
the animals or their traces on our field trips — by 159
The majority of new records of V. griseus was found
in the southern and south-eastern parts of the Kyzylkum
Desert. Two specimens were spotted in the far north-east
of the desert, 20 km to the south of the Bulanbaybauy set-
tlement in the Kyzylorda Region (Fig. 3, point 5). No
traces of desert monitors were found to the west of this
point in the Kyzylkum Desert. Evidences of the monitor
lizards were identified in the central part of Kyzylkum
Desert, 20 km north-west of the Bosaga cordon (Fig. 3,
point 7), and there is also information from border con-
trol employees on the presence of monitor near Dalaku-
duk well (Fig. 3, point 6).
We received information on V. griseus occurrence in
the western part of Muyunkum Desert from the Inspector
of State Enterprise “Okhotzooprom.” During the studies
of the Muyunkum sands in August 2015, neither moni-
tors, nor traces were found (Fig. 3, point 4). Records of
desert monitor in the south-eastern areas of the Karatau
Mountain ridge need further clarification (Fig. 3, point 8)
(Zh. S. Dautaliyev, personal communication). Informa-
tion on monitor’s distribution on the right bank of the
Syrdarya River in the Izakuduk Sands and the Beltau
Mountains (Gvozdev, 1986; Brushko et al., 1990) were
confirmed (Fig. 3, point 9), and new habitats near Sarya-
gash town (Darbaza Mountains, gardens near Saryagash
town) were identified (Fig. 3, points 10 and 11) (Zima,
In 2015, there was 5 males and 3 females among 8
specimens. In 2016, there was 8 males and 4 females
among 12 specimens. Body length of males ranged from
41.0 to 57.0 cm (50.68 ± 1.48 cm, n= 13), tail length
ranged from 58.5 to 71.0 cm (65.18 ± 1.31 cm, n= 12).
The largest male had a total length of 127.0 cm. Body
length of females was 36.0 – 44.5 cm (40.92 ± 1.00, n=
= 7), and tail length was 51.0 – 60.0 cm (55.71 ± 1.32,
n= 7). Thus, males on average are larger than females
(p= 0.0002). On June 20th, 2009, one specimen with a
body length of 14 cm and a tail length of 20 cm was
found dead along the road to the north of the Shardara
Reservoir; on April 13th, 2012, three and on April 2017
seven juvenile monitors with body lengths of about
10 – 13 cm were found in Karaktau Mountain area
(Fig. 4). We believe that in order to clarify the morpho-
logical variability of desert monitor on the northern pe-
riphery of its range, additional data is needed.
Investigations on Distribution, Occurrence and Threats of Varanus griseus caspius in Kazakhstan 189
Fig. 3. Distribution of Varanus griseus in the north-eastern periphery
of its geographic range in Kazakhstan. Numbers on the map are desig-
nated locations discussed in the text: 1, former Aral Sea islands (Kas-
kakylan Island, 45.6555° N 60.9568° E; Mataj and Tailya-dzhuzgen
islands, 45.2629° N 61.6237° E) (Zarudny, 1915); 2, Kazalinsk City
area (45.7833° N 62.24° E); 3, Kzylorda City area (44.86666° N
65.66° E) (Brushko, 1995); 4, western border of Muyunkum desert
(44.562447° N 68.723238° E); 5, 20 – 22 km to the south of Bulanbay-
bayuy settlement (43.78457° N 66.62671° E); 6, border control station
(Dalakuduk well) (42.7907° N 66.18176° E); 7, 20 km north-west of
former Bosaga village (42.518° N 66.8833° E); 8, borders of Leon-
tyevka village (43.05695° N 69.84583° E); 9, Beltau and Darbaza
mountains (41.59491° N 68.33043° E; 41.85211° N 68.54166° E);
10, Darbaza station area (41.60146° N 69.13491° E); 11, Saryagash
City area (41.4834° N 59.17° E).
Preferred Biotopes of V. griseus
In the southern part of the Kyzylkum Desert, V. gri-
seus lives in hilly sands with vegetation dominated by
sedge (Carex physodes), white saxaul (Haloxylon persi-
cum), various species of calligonum (Calligonum sp.),
sand acacia (Ammodendron sp.) and salt tree (Halimo-
dendron halodendron) (Fig. 5A, B). The desert monitor
was recorded in cellular and hilly sands with grass and
bush vegetation. The most common biotope inhabited by
desert monitor in the eastern part of the Kyzylkum Desert
are hilly sands. Some animals were encountered on ta-
kyrs (flat clay surfaces) where vegetation was repre-
sented by biyurgun (Anabasis salsa) and, closer to sands,
by wormwood (Artemisia sp.). Monitors were observed
regularly in the Karaktau mountain area that consists of
metamorphosed Paleozoic shales, limestones, granites
(Fig. 5C).
The desert monitor was found in sands with sand aca-
cia, calligonium and white saxaul on the right bank of the
Syrdarya River in Izakuduk Sands (Fig. 5D). Other
places with sands that had been heavily trampled by cat-
tle, with no bush vegetation, showed no traces of moni-
tors. To the south-east of Izakuduk sands in the Darbaza
mountain area and Darbaza station, desert monitors were
observed in mountains in gullies and clay cliffs with
wormwood, wheat grass and saltwort (Fig. 5E). We en-
countered V. griseus and its traces several times in land-
scapes that had been anthropogenically modified: sands
trampled by cattle, near shepherds’ houses (Fig. 5F),
koshars, on soil roads and asphalt roads. Some specimens
were observed near Saryagash town in heavily modified
agricultural landscapes represented by gardens, vine-
yards, greenhouses and agricultural fields.
In areas affected by fire over recent years, with only
grass cover was restored (i.e., with no shrubs and with a
low density of gerbils and ground squirrels’ habitats),
monitors have not been found during our research. The
species have not been observed either on the large bar-
khans and the massifs of very high barkhans (over 10 m).
Results of Recording the Desert Monitor Occurrence
The results of the research on V. griseus are presented
in the Table 1. In the far south of the Kazakhstan part of
the Kyzylkum Desert, along the border with Uzbekistan,
on the soil and sand roads, the occurrence of monitor liz-
ard in 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2015 ranged from 0.02 to
0.10 spec./km2, and on average was 0.06 spec./km2.
In the other studied areas of Kyzylkum Desert, the occur-
rence of desert monitors equaled 0.05 – 0.09 spec./km2
(Table 1). Occurrence of V. griseus to the north of the
Karaktau Mountains on the asphalt road during 2014
190 Marina A. Chirikova et al.
Fig. 4. Juveniles of Varanus griseus. Eastern Kyzylkum, 2012. Photo by A. E. Gavrilov.
2016 ranged from 0.04 to 0.2 spec./km, and on average
was 0.05 spec./km. During monitoring walks in the Ka-
raktau mountain area, occurrence ranged from 0.20 to
1.33 spec./km and averaged at 0.60 spec./km. On the
eastern bank of the Syrdarya River, near the Darbaza
Mountains, the occurrence was 0.66 spec./km.
Human Impact on the Desert Monitor
All cases of desert monitor deaths that have been ob-
served were apparently caused by human factor. Between
2008 and 2016, in total, we encountered 28 dead speci-
mens on the road. In 2012, on the road west to Shardara
Reservoir (length of 50 km) we found three specimens
that were crushed by car. In 2015, on the road 80 km to
Investigations on Distribution, Occurrence and Threats of Varanus griseus caspius in Kazakhstan 191
Fig. 5. Biotopes occupied by Varanus griseus in the north-eastern periphery of its geographic range in Kazakhstan: A, turfed hilly sands,
South-Eastern Kyzylkum; B, flat land sands, Eastern Kyzylkum; C, Karaktau Mountains; D, Izakuduk sands; E, Darbaza Mountain; F, sands tram-
pled by cattle near shepherd’s house. Photos by M. V. Pestov, Yu. A. Zima, V. A. Fedorenko and M. A. Chirikova.
the north of the Uzbekistan border, 4 specimens were
found dead (Table 1). In May – June 2016, we found 21
dead desert monitors north and north-west of the Karak-
tau Mountains across 90 km of road. This road leads to
the “Zarechny” uranium deposit. Twice we found desert
monitors in dry wells where they could not get out from.
The interviews with shepherds from 22 shepherds’
houses located across the distance of 200 km in the
southern part of Kyzylkum Desert showed that about one
to two desert monitors are killed at each location every
year. We also met a local hunter in the course of survey,
and according to him, illegal hunting of V. griseus hap-
pens for alternative medicine purposes (personal obser-
vation). One hunter catches and sells at least 15 speci-
mens per year. Monitor lizards are supplied predomi-
nantly to major cities such as Shymkent, Almaty, and
Taraz. Additionally, according to the hunter, monitors are
shipped to China. Blood and meat of desert monitors, and
on rare occasions, fat and eggs, are used for alternative
medication purposes (personal observation).
On the other note, the survey demonstrated that
V. griseus has been traditionally associated with negative
sentiments and attitudes amongst the local population.
The majority of interviewed shepherds believe that moni-
tors brings unhappiness and illness; that they may cause
infertility if they run between human legs; that they take
milk from sheep and goats; about half of the shepherds
believe that if one kills seven desert monitors, it will
bring absolution from one’s sins. The most grounded rea-
son for the local residents’ negative attitude to monitors
includes regular attempts by these large reptiles to visit
hen houses and hunt the chicks (our survey data).
New data made it possible to clarify the northern and
north-eastern border of the desert monitor range. Records
on the northern border of the monitor’s geographic range
in Kazakhstan were ambiguous. In the early 20th century,
V. griseus was discovered on Barak, Mantay, Taylya-
Dzhilen and Kaska-Kulan islands in the Aral Sea (Zarud-
ny, 1915). D. N. Kashkarov (1932) stated that the desert
monitor does not reach the Syrdarya River and it was not
found in Muyunkum Desert behind the Karatau Ridge.
Later, V. G. Krivosheyev (1958) pointed out that V. grise-
us had not been found in the area from the eastern shore
line of the Aral Sea to the Kuandarya and Zhanadarya
river deltas during research performed in 1952 and
1954 – 1955. However, in the 1970s, there was informa-
tion about desert monitor occurrence near Kazalinsk
town, near the northern border of Kyzylkum Desert (Bru-
shko, 1995) (Fig. 3, point 2). In this region, the desert
monitor was observed in 1989 (I. I. Temreshev, personal
communication). The monitor was also spotted in the
Kyzylorda area (Fig. 3, point 3) (Gvozdev, 1986).
Z. K. Brushko (1995) believed V. griseus occurrence near
Kazalinsk and Kyzylorda was due to human activity (ac-
cidental or intentional release into nature). Based on the
results of our survey, we believe that the desert monitor
does not occur in the Northern Kyzylkum. Here, its dis-
tribution is limited by climatic factors and corresponds to
the border of Eastern and Northern Kyzylkum regions
(Puzyreva, 1975). East Kyzylkum region has the precipi-
tation that is minimum in the summer and maximum in
the early spring. The summer in the Eastern Kyzylkum
region is 1.5 – 2 months longer, whereas the summer in
Northern Kyzylkum region is shorter, and the annual pre-
cipitation is more even in distribution. This indicates a di-
rect dependence of the desert monitor’s distribution on
climatic factors in the north of its range. Research in this
direction is required, and will be presented in a separate
article. In the central part of the Kyzylkum Desert, where
the desert monitor has not been discovered until recently,
we recorded the occurrence of this reptile (Fig. 3,
points 6 and 7). We made an assumption that V. griseus is
wide-spread in this region, and that the lack of record is
associated with difficult access to this remote area result-
ing in the low degree of exploration.
New data demonstrated that desert monitor is wide-
spread in more eastern regions than it was known previ-
ously, reaching as far as Saryagash town and Darbaza sta-
tion in the southern part of the South Kazakhstan Region
near the Uzbekistan border (Fig. 3, points 10 and 11).
These last two habitats are approximately 80 km further
towards the east compared to the existing records. About
60 years ago, V. griseus was observed within proximity of
the Tashkent City area (Bogdanov, 1960) (Fig. 3). Inten-
sive development of this region admittedly has led to the
disappearance of the species (Bannikov et al., 1977, Nu-
ridzhanov, 2009).
Thus, based on literature data (Bannikov et al., 1977;
Sindaco and Jeremèenko, 2008; Nuridzhanov et al.,
2016) and our own study, we assume, that the northern
border of the geographic range of V. griseus is from the
eastern shore line of the Caspian Sea in Turkmenistan,
along the southern cliffs of Ustyurt until the southern part
of the Aral Sea, further along the northern part of Kyzyl-
kum Desert in Uzbekistan, where, approximately in the
region of Dalakuduk well (Fig. 3, point 6), the species
spreads into North-Eastern Kyzylkum Desert in Kazakh-
stan. Further, the border of its geographic range extends
north towards the Syrdarya River. Desert monitor’s ha-
bitat continues in Kazakhstan towards the east and is de-
fined by western foothills of the Tian Shan Mountains.
Potential areas to be included into the range are the
192 Marina A. Chirikova et al.
Northern Kyzylkum Desert in Uzbekistan, the South-
eastern Aral Sea Region, the southern foothills of the Ka-
ratau Ridge, and the Muyunkum Desert in Kazakhstan.
At the north-eastern periphery of its geographical
range, in Kyzylkum Desert desert monitor inhabits turfed
hilly sands with shrub vegetation, and residual moun-
tains, sometimes takyrs (clay desert). On the eastern bank
of the Syrdarya River V. griseus lives in the foothill
steppe, in residual mountains and in gullies with no shrub
vegetation. Generally, we observe a significant corre-
spondence with biotopes in the southern parts of the
range of this subspecies (Tsellarius et al., 1991; Bogda-
nov, 1960; 1965; Ataev, 1985).
According to some authors (Tsellarius et al., 1991;
Brushko, 1995), monitor prefers areas near the colonies
of gerbils (Rhombomys opimus), which we have ob-
served in several places in the Kyzylkum Desert. How-
ever, in areas where gerbils are scarce or absent, desert
monitor uses burrows of large-toothed suslik (Spermo-
philus fulfus) and long-clawed ground squirrels (S. lepto-
dactilus). According to our data, the South of Kyzylkum
Desert, the Izakuduk Sands, Beltau and Darbaza moun-
tains represent such territories. This is consistent with the
data of theriologists who, in their study of yellow susliks
in Kyzylkum Desert, have found desert monitors in 65%
of the burrows (Ismagilov, 1962).
Thus, desert monitor prefers biotopes with favour-
able conditions for finding food, shelter, hibernation and
incubation. This can explain why monitor has not been
found in areas exposed to fire and in barchan dunes. In
the Karaktau Mountains, there are many habitats suitable
for hibernation, with the slopes housing numerous gerbil
colonies. Residual mountains and cliffs on the right bank
of the Syrdarya River provide similarly suitable habitats
for desert monitor (Fig. 6). In Anatolia, several speci-
mens were spotted among big calcareous rocks at the
edge of cultivated areas and in gravel plains (Ilgaz et al.,
Motor ways use desert monitors for hunting and as a
place for thermoregulation, which is characteristic of
many reptiles (Butov et al., 2006). They also eat other
animals that have been killed by vehicles. It is known that
V. griseus eats dead animals both in captivity and natural
conditions (Gorelov, 1973; Stanner and Mendelssohn,
1987; Brushko et al., 1990). We observed desert moni-
tors eating dead steppe agama (Trapelus sanguinolentus).
The high mortality of the monitor on roads, noted in
2016, may have been connected, on the one hand, with
the increase in the flow of motor vehicles to uranium de-
posit. On the other hand, the spring and summer period of
2016 was rainy and there was a high grass stand. In the
more southerly regions, it was also observed that in years
with heavy rainfall, because of the high grass stand, the
monitors are forced to go to the roads more often (Gore-
lov, 1973).
In the different sections of the Kyzylkum Desert that
we surveyed, there were no significant differences in the
occurrence of the monitor. The average occurrence on
road surveys was no more than 0.1 spec./km, with an av-
erage of 0.05 spec./km. Multiple road trips along the
Investigations on Distribution, Occurrence and Threats of Varanus griseus caspius in Kazakhstan 193
Fig. 6. Desert monitor near Darbaza station. Photo by V. A. Fedorenko.
same parts of the road to the north of the Karaktau Moun-
tains in 2014 – 2016 brought similar results (0.02 –
0.1 spec./km, average — 0.05 spec./km). However, in
the same region, occurrence was higher 0.2
1.33 spec./km when counting through walking, with an
average of 0.6 spec./km (Table 1). Such results were
compared with 1950s data: it was 1 monitor per 2 km of
road in Southern Kyzylkum Desert (0.5 spec./km) (Pa-
raskiv, 1956). Higher occurrence was observed in 1987 –
1989 in some areas of Kyzylkum Desert; for example, in
the Orynbay settlement area, 3 specimens of desert moni-
tor were observed across 1.5 km (0.5 spec./km) and, on
the second route, 3 specimens were observed across
200 m. In 1987, 20 adult monitors lived on 2-km2area
near Baymakhan artesian well, south of the Karaktau
Mountains (Brushko et al., 1990). In 2016, fresh traces
from 4 different individuals were recorded on the same
territory on 3-km route (Table 1). Overall, comparing the
former population density and the current occurrence can
be noted a slight decline numbers of desert monitor in
Kyzylkum Desert.
On the eastern bank of the Syrdarya River, near the
Darbaza Mountains, the occurrence was 0.66 spec./km.
In 1983, four desert monitors were found here during 4 h
of walking (Gvozdev, 1986). That is, the species occur-
rence in this territory has not decreased over the last 30
years. In addition, reliablae information is received about
constant occurrence of desert monitors in the Saryagash
town area. That is, there is a viable monitor population on
the western bank of the Syrdarya River, with species oc-
currence not lower than in the Kyzylkum Desert.
Occurrence of V. griseus in the south is lower; for
example, in Tajikistan (Protected Zone “Tigrovaya Bal-
ka”) in March April, 4 6 lizards were found per
14 – 18 km (about 0.3 spec./km) (Said-Aliyev, 1979); in
1999, one specimen was found during a 3 5-h trip
(Khabilov, 2012). In Karakum only 2 4 individuals of
desert monitor were found in Turkmenistan during a sur-
vey (Shammakov, 1981), according to other data occur-
rence was 0.3 – 1.0 spec./km (Tsellarius et al., 1991).
In the Badkhyz hills, occurrence was 0.1 spec./km, in re-
inforced sands — 0, 5 spec./km (Ataev, 1985). Signifi-
cantly higher occurrence of desert monitor was observed
in Uzbekistan where in April – June 4 – 6 spec./km
(Khodzhayev, 1989; Bondarenko, 1989), in Western Ky-
zylkum Desert at a site of 2 km2there were 6 lizards
(Tsellarius et al., 1991). In addition, the density of the
desert monitor is relatively higher within the foothill val-
leys (0.37 spec./ha) than in the open sandy soils and hilly
sands (0.08 spec./ha) (Bondarenko, 1989). Although,
during the last ten years, species occurrence in some ar-
eas of Uzbekistan have decreased (Nuridzhanov and
Nuridzhanov, 2008).
The daily activity of desert monitors is of individual
nature. Monitors can come to the surface for a short time,
or do not appear on the surface for several days, hiding in
their burrows (Brushko, 1995). In light of this, the final
count of the occurrence of V. griseus in Kazakhstan will
be possible after further comprehensive monitoring stud-
ies at the field sites.
Due to their large size and protective behaviour, adult
V. griseus do not have a large number of natural enemies.
Young desert monitor is hunted by red fox (Vulpes vul-
pes) and jungle cat (Felis chaus) (Ishunin, 1968),
short-toed snake eagle (Circaetus gallicus), black kite
(Milvus migrans), and cinereous vulture (Aegypius mo-
nachus) (Shammakov, 1981; Ataev, 1985). Human activ-
ity significantly reduces the population of monitors. In
1937, almost entire population of desert monitors was
caught in the Tekebay well area (Uzbekistan) for reptile
leather production, and only by the 1950s did it start to
grow again (Paraskiv, 1956). In the 1980s, the population
of V. griseus decreased again as a result of cultivation and
land irrigation in the Fergana and Vakhshskaya mead-
ows, in the Golodnaya Steppe (Uzbekistan) (Bogdanov,
1965; Said-Aliyev, 1979) and the Shardara Steppe (Ka-
zakhstan) (Brushko, 1995). The habitats of V. griseus in
sand deserts have been less subjected to agricultural de-
velopment. Here, this species has suffered predominantly
from direct destruction by humans (Brushko, 1995). Rea-
sons for destroying these large lizards by humans vary;
they include fear, use of their meat and other derivatives
for medical purposes, hunting lizards for sale (Mil’ko
and Panfilov, 2006; Nuridzhanov, 2009; Koch et al.,
2013; Welton et al., 2013; Ghimire and Shah, 2014; Ras-
tegar-Pouyani et al., 2015). However, as confirmed by
our survey in Kazakhstan, the major reason is traditional
negative attitude towards this reptile. If we take into ac-
count that, at each shepherds’ houses, 1 – 2 desert moni-
tors are killed on average per year, then over 20 speci-
mens are killed by shepherds in the southern part of Ky-
zylkum Desert in total. And this is only 1/6 of the area of
distribution of the monitor in Kazakhstan. At the same
time, a large number of desert monitors die on the roads
because of vehicles. On earth roads (without asphalt cov-
ering), 2 – 3 specimens die per 100 km (Fig. 7); on as-
phalted roads in places of industrial development, over
10 specimens die per 100 km in a month. All dead moni-
tors that we found were adults. Extrapolating this data to
the whole area of monitor’s distribution in Kazakhstan,
we assume that over one hundred deaths of desert moni-
tor is caused by humans each year.
The unexpected result of the surveys was information
on the illegal hunting of V. griseus for the purposes of al-
194 Marina A. Chirikova et al.
ternative medicine in Kazakhstan. It was known for Uz-
bekistan and Kyrgyzstan (Mil’ko and Panfilov, 2006;
Nuridzhanov, 2009), but for Kazakhstan such informa-
tion has been obtained for the first time.
Suggested Protection Measures
for V. griseus in Kazakhstan
A significant part of the geographic range of V. grise-
us in Kazakhstan lies within the limits of specially pro-
tected natural areas of Southern Kazakhstan, Arys and
Karaktau. However, in accordance with the status of
these areas, for the most part of their territory there are
practically no restrictions on economic activities (except
hunting). The land is used to grazing sheep; there is a net-
work of roads, lots of transport and, according to our ob-
servations, the death rate of the monitor due to human
factors is still high. In this regard, it is necessary either to
expand the zones within the South Kazakhstan, Arys and
Karaktau Protected Areas where any human activity is
prohibited, or to create new protected areas with limited
human activities.
Currently, we are investigating the most suitable hab-
itats of V. griseus in Kazakhstan. Creation of new spe-
cially protected natural areas in Kyzylkum Desert or
expansion of specially protected natural area in the South
Kazakhstan will enable protection of both V. griseus and
desert ecosystem on the whole.
Moreover, it is necessary to achieve a change in the
negative attitude of the local population towards moni-
tors. This is possible only as a result of systematic educa-
tional work with the local community, distribution of
special printed products, the publication of information
about this unique animal in the local media. As the expe-
rience of other countries has shown, such actions bring
positive results (Arijit and Silanjan, 2015). In 2012, we
started this work with the support of the Rufford Founda-
tion (
rikova), and continued it in 2015 – 2016. We also con-
sider it appropriate to install billboards with images of
V. griseus on a section of an asphalt road from the Koksa-
ray village to the Zarechny uranium deposit, which is the
place of mass death of monitors under the wheels of cars.
Currently, V. griseus is not included in any of the red
list categories of the International Union for Conser-
Investigations on Distribution, Occurrence and Threats of Varanus griseus caspius in Kazakhstan 195
Fig. 7. The desert monitor that died under vehicle’s wheels. Kyzylkum, 2016. Photo by M. V. Pestov.
vation of Nature (IUCN). Therefore, we recommend
to evaluate this species in accordance with the IUCN
Acknowledgments. The authors would like to express
their gratitude to A. Z. Dauletov for assistance in expeditionary
research and educational activities among the local population;
G. V. Shakula, V. A. Fedorenko, Zh. Dautaliev and Inspectors of
“Okhotzooprom” for information on V. griseus; A. A. Grachov,
F. A. Sarayev and R. Alimgaziyev for participation in expedi-
tions. In addition, we would like to express special gratitude to
Z. K. Brushko, A. Yu. Tsellarius, N. A. Ananjeva, T. N. Dujse-
bayeva for valuable comments on the manuscript. We thank
N. L. Clemann for the correction of the English text.
This work was supported of the Rufford Small Grants
Foundation 2012 (10048-1) and 2016 (19111-2), Republican
Grant of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Kazakh-
stan 2200/GF4 and RK/GEF/UNDP Government project
funds — “Improvement of sustainability of the system of pro-
tected areas in desert ecosystems through promotion of biodiv-
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APPENDIX 1. Coordinates of the Finds of Desert Monitor in Kazakhstan
Published data
1. E Priaralye, Kaska-Kulan Island [45.66666° N 61.0° E]
(Zarydny, 1915);
2. Neighborhood of Kzyl-Orda town [44.86666° N
65.6° E] (Gvozdev, 1986);
3. 50 – 60 km SW of the vill. Yanykurgan [43.58333° N
66.71666° E] (Gvozdev, 1986);
4. Neighborhood of Bakhtiyar vill. [43.58333° N
66.78333° E], 15.05.1982 (Gvozdev, 1986);
5. The vicinity of the well Shibyk and 7 km W
[43.26583° N 67.25957° E] (Gvozdev, 1986);
6. The vicinity of the Ujaly vill. [42.88333° N 67.0° E],
(Gvozdev, 1986);
7. 10 – 30 km S Ujaly vill. [42.75° N 67.0° E],
(Gvozdev, 1986);
8. Well Dzhejuder [43.04614° N 67.20659° E]
(Gvozdev, 1986);
9. Bajteke and 3 km S [43.17554° N 67.20487° E], (Gvo-
zdev, 1986);
10. Between Bajteke and Ujaly [43.05211° N
67.16230° E] (Gvozdev, 1986);
11. Neighborhood of Kumuyan Fortress [43.36666° N
67.41666° E] (Gvozdev, 1986);
12. Between Kumuyan Fortress and Ujaly [43.18333° N
67.16666° E] (Gvozdev, 1986);
13. 10 km SE Shardara Reservoir [41.21203° N
67.90847° E] (Gvozdev, 1986);
Investigations on Distribution, Occurrence and Threats of Varanus griseus caspius in Kazakhstan 197
14. 5 km SW Shardara town, [41.26666° N 67.91666° E]
(Gvozdev, 1986);
15. 14 km W Tabakbulak vill. [42.5° N 67.66666° E]
(Brushko et al., 1990, Brushko, 1995);
16. Konguzu well [42.45° N 67.06666° E] (Brushko et al.,
17. Akdala well [42.0000° N 66.91666° E] (Brushko et
al., 1990);
18. Karaozek well [41.91666° N 67.33333° E] (Brushko
et al., 1990);
19. Zhibekshi vill. [41.7° N 66.93333° E] (Brushko et al.,
20. Naiman-Bukharbaj well [41.55° N 66.91666° E]
(Brushko et al., 1990);
21. Bimirzakkuduk vill. [41.35° N 67.35° E] (Brushko et
al., 1990);
22. Between Bimirzakkuduk vill. and Ak-Altyn vill.
[41.68333° N 67.6666° E] (Brushko et al., 1990);
23. W Komsomolskiy collective farm [41.75° N
67.83333° E] (Brushko et al., 1990);
24. W Kyzylkumskiy collective farm [41.91666° N
67.78333° E] (Brushko et al., 1990);
25. 30 km W Bairkum vill. [42.1° N 67.81666° E] (Bru-
shko et al., 1990);
26. Izakuduk Sands [41.6666° N 68.1666° E] (Brushko et
al., 1990);
27. 15 km from Kyzylpanton vill. [42° N 67.8° E] (Bru-
shko et al., 1990);
28. Baimakhan well [41.86666° N 67.71666° E] (Brushko
et al., 1990);
29. 7 km from Zhusaly well [42.33333° N 67.78333° E]
(Brushko et al., 1990, Brushko, 1995);
30. Sutkent vill. [41.91666° N 68, 08333° E] (Brushko et
al., 1990);
31. 20 km from Orynbai collective farm [42.08144° N
66.21252° E] (Brushko et al., 1990);
32. 10 – 15 km north of Bel’tau [41.90322° N
68.49414° E] (Brushko et al., 1990);
33. 42 – 48 km NW Koksarai vill. [42.87420° N
67.67768° E] (Brushko et al., 1990);
34. 99 km SW Koksarai vill., Askarly well [42.52130° N
66.92176° E] (Brushko et al., 1990);
35. 53 km SW Koksarai vill., Adyr well [42.53404° N
67.55424° E] (Brushko et al., 1990);
36. Dauranbek well [42.64218° N 67.44152° E] (Brushko,
37. Zhaugashty vill. [42.88815° N 67.31444° E] (Brush-
ko, 1995);
38. Tulubergen well [43.283° N 67.116° E] (Brushko,
39. Karasan mosque [43.76015° N 66.90571° E] (Brush-
ko, 1995);
40. 22 km S Bulanbajbauy vill. [43.72662° N
66.60931° E] (Brushko, 1995);
41. Between Baltykul and Ovzevod [43.10643° N
67.74826° E] (Brushko, 1995);
42. 33 km NW Koksarai vill. [42.76717° N 67.78399° E]
(Brushko, 1995);
43. Bajkenzhe vill. [43.89163° N 66.91541° E] (Brushko,
44. Apankalak vill. [43.50868° N 67.18604° E] (Brushko,
45. Arystanbaj [43.27159° N 67.41444° E] (Brushko,
46. Zhautkan well [42.0905° N 67.6365° E], 1988, 1989
(Brushko, 1995);
47. Koksu collective farm [41.48° N 68.02° E] (Brushko
et al., 1990);
48. Voskhod collective farm [41.38857° N 67.93514° E]
(Brushko et al., 1990)
Personal Communications from Specialists
and Local Residents
49. 60 km S Shiili vill. [43.65° N 66.7166° E] E. S. Tashi-
50. Neighborhood of the village of Zharynyas (Leontiev-
ka) [43.05695° N 69.84583° E] Dautaliev;
51. Near the village of Kumzhyek [45.7833° N 62.24° E],
18.08.1989, I. I. Temreshev;
52. South-Kazakhstan region [42.10158° N 67.65666° E],
26.09.2012, G. Shakula;
53. South-Kazakhstan region [42.10125° N 67.65650° E]
26.09.2012, G. Shakula;
54. South-Kazakhstan region [42.10373° N 67.66037° E],
27.09.2012, G. Shakula;
55. South-Kazakhstan region [42.10349° N 67.66168° E]
27.09.2012, G. Shakula;
56. South-Kazakhstan region [42.10205° N 67.65747° E],
27.09.2012, G. Shakula;
57. South-Kazakhstan region [42.31627° N 67.77703° E],
30.09.2012, G. Shakula;
58. Abai vill., near Saryagash town [41.4834° N 59.17° E],
autumn 2014, summer 2015, Sarylhan, local resident;
59. Izakuduk sands [41.47022° N 68, 13923° E],
19.05.2015. Data of workers serving the gas pipeline;
60. Mountain Beltau, Bozai vill. [41.59491° N
68.33043° E], 2015, Data from local residents;
61. Kyzylkum desert [41.41827° N 67.14841° E],
23.05.2015, Data from local residents;
62. Kyzylkum desert [41.39973° N 67.04397° E],
23.05.2015, Data from local residents;
63. Kyzylkum desert [41.37972° N 66.82812° E],
23.05.2015, Data from local residents;
64. Kyzylkum desert [41.5066° N 66.87518° E],
24.05.2015, Data from local residents;
65. [42.38666° N 67.8048° E], 27.05.2013, G. Shakula;
66. [42.30516° N 67.7055° E], 28.05.2013, G. Shakula;
67. [43.00826° N 67.0569° E], 02.06.2015, G. Shakula;
68. Dalakidik well [42.7907° N 66.18176° E], 2015, Inter-
views of border guards.
Own Data
69. [41.95212° N 67.86316° E], 24.05.2007;
70. [42.01846° N 67.67725° E], 25.05.2007;
71. [42.68964° N 67.71495° E], 26.05.2007;
72. [43.39619° N 67.17826° E], 28.05.2007;
73. [43.19222° N 67.35669° E], 28.05.2007;
74. [42.65067° N 67.9058° E], 31.05.2007;
75. [41.30178° N 67.54239° E], 12.04.2008;
198 Marina A. Chirikova et al.
76. [42.22765° N 67.81199° E], 12.04.2008;
77. [43.29087° N 67.07438° E], 25.09.2008;
78. [41.25694° N 67.28941° E], 22.06.2009;
79. [42.65254° N 67.67617° E], 27.09.2008;
80. [42.57027° N 67.76375° E], 27.09.2008;
81. [41.23946° N 67.49861° E], 22 – 24.06.2009;
82. [41.23139° N 67.47884° E], 22 – 24.06.2009;
83. [41.23231° N 67.47274° E], 22 – 24.06.2009;
84. [41.22454° N 67.4372° E], 22 – 24.06.2009;
85. [41.24129° N 67.37501° E], 22 – 24.06.2009;
86. [41.2463° N 67.35696° E], 22 – 24.06.2009;
87. [41.26014° N 67.21156° E], 22 – 24.06.2009;
88. [41.25959° N 67.06434° E], 22 – 24.06.2009;
89. [41.25153° N 67.0423° E], 22 – 24.06.2009;
90. [41.23768° N 66.9948° E], 22 – 24.06.2009;
91. [41.34234° N 66.91908° E], 22 – 24.06.2009;
92. [41.49608° N 67.40517° E], 22 – 24.06.2009;
93. [41.57326° N 67.68886° E], 22 – 24.06.2009;
94. [41.49106° N 67.38575° E], 22 – 24.06.2009;
95. [41.23504° N 68, 26441° E], 20.06.2009;
96. [41.21203° N 67.90847° E], 21.06.2009;
97. [41.25206° N 67.5848° E], 21.06.2009;
98. [42.23256° N 68.10280° E], 19.05.2012;
99. [42.27906° N 67.75642° E], 20.05.2012;
100. [42.26065° N 67.57323° E], 20.05.2012;
101. [42.27390° N 67.53943° E], 21.05.2012;
102. [42.16105° N 67.50059° E], 21.05.2012;
103. [42.11625° N 67.66793° E], 22.05.2012;
104. [42.08836° N 67.63927° E], 22.05.2012;
105. [42.06550° N 67.70126° E], 22.05.2012;
106. [41.11703° N 68.42941° E], 23.05.2012;
107. [41.25259° N 67.83118° E], 23.05.2012;
108. [41.25392° N 67.73765° E], 23.05.2012;
109. [41.28058° N 67.60882° E], 23.05.2012;
110. [41.34712° N 67.43361° E], 20.05.2012;
111. [41.36948° N 67.42194° E], 24.05.2012;
112. [41.47985° N 67.45229° E], 24.05.2012;
113. [41.65577° N 67.43552° E], 24.05.2012;
114. [41.65748° N 67.45608° E], 24.05.2012;
115. [41.66436° N 67.51013° E], 25.05.2012;
116. [41.66733° N 67.56458° E], 25.05.2012;
117. [41.67014° N 67.59170° E], 25.05.2012;
118. [41.57997° N 67.71276° E], 25.05.2012;
119. [41.47934° N 67.95886° E], 25.05.2012;
120. [43.76573° N 66.93718° E], 26.05.2012;
121. [43.65671° N 66.73713° E], 26.05.2012;
122. [43.78428° N 66.76793° E], 27.05.2012;
123. [42.084° N 66.2166° E], 04.09.12;
124. [42.0885° N 66.2218° E], 04.09.12;
125. [42.0666° N 66.26° E], 04.09.12;
126. [42.082° N 66.6333° E], 2 – 5.09.2012;
127. [42.518° N 66.8833° E], 03.09.2012;
128. [42.184° N 67.7833° E], 06.09.2012;
129. [42.584° N 67.1333° E], 2 – 5.09.2012;
130. [43° N 67.6333° E], 2 – 5.09.2012;
131. [42.31283° N 67.92303° E], 02.05.2013;
132. [42.47935° N 67.82902° E], 03.05.2013;
133. [42.47554° N 67.68617° E], 14.05.2014;
134. [42.66509° N 67.68713° E], 14.05.2014;
135. [42.50802° N 67.83987° E], 15.05.2014;
136. [42.53092° N 67.91087° E], 15.05.2014;
137. [42.53239° N 67.91479° E], 22.05.2014;
138. [42.29385° N 67.8065° E], 22.05.2014;
139. [42.27105° N 67.76968° E], 23.05.2014;
140. [42.4125° N 67.76595° E], 23.05.2014;
141. [42.60518° N 68.02656° E], 23.05.2014;
142. [42.51593° N 67.87711° E], 25.05.2014;
143. [42.66919° N 67.71323° E], 28.05.2014;
144. [42.6° N 67.52268° E], 29.05.2014;
145. [42.70795° N 67.62268° E], 29.05.2014;
146. [42.55002° N 67.78722° E], 29.05.2014;
147. [42.51517° N 67.83076° E], 29.05.2014;
148. [42.55292° N 67.99258° E], 29.05.2014;
149. [42.56523° N 68.08524° E], 31.05.2014;
150. [42.56825° N 67.76614° E], 16.06.2014;
151. [42.60997° N 67.71194° E], 17.06.2014;
152. [42.54616° N 67.95831° E], 17.06.2014;
153. [42.57399° N 68.08047° E], 21.06.2014;
154. [42.46377° N 67.83561° E], 10.05.2015;
155. [42.46755° N 67.6377° E], 10 – 11.05.2015;
156. [42.27923° N 67.76089° E], 11.05.2015;
157. [42.52002° N 67.82466° E], 12.05.2015;
158. [42.5063° N 67.85529° E], 13.05.2015;
159. [42.55894° N 67.77688° E], 15.05.2015;
160. [42.41853° N 67.71095° E], 16.05.2015;
161. [41.31731° N 68.26247° E], 18.05.2015;
162. [41.262° N 67.77752° E], 21.05.2015;
163. [41.25077° N 67.74991° E], 21.05.2015;
164. [41.24762° N 67.69217° E], 21.05.2015;
165. [41.25875° N 67.6565° E], 22.05.2015;
166. [41.28792° N 67.58806° E], 22.05.2015;
167. [41.39605° N 67.2375° E], 22.05.2015;
168. [41.41432° N 67.12871° E], 23.05.2015;
169. [41.5306° N 66.90167° E], 24.05.2015;
170. [41.6787° N 66.87229° E], 24.05.2015;
171. [41.76391° N 66.85475° E], 24.05.2015;
172. [41.9864° N 66.90665° E], 25.05.2015;
173. [42.53406° N 67.91998° E], 29.05.2015;
174. [43.74142° N 66.61461° E], 29.05.2015;
175. [43.78457° N 66.62671° E], 29.05.2015;
176. [43.79141° N 66.63017° E], 29.05.2015;
177. [42.43784° N 67.86195° E], 16.05.2015;
178. [42.55309° N 67.99318° E], 17.05.2015;
179. [42.55309° N 67.99318° E], 17.05.2015;
180. [42.48424° N 67.8016° E], 17.05.2015;
181. [42.77069° N 6789828° E], 29.05.2015;
182. [42.5307° N 67.99049° E], 08.06.2015;
183. [42.54416° N 67.95245° E], 08.06.2015;
184. [42.35437° N 67.73466° E], 16.06.2015;
185. [42.55703° N 67.85025° E], 17.06.2015;
186. [42.51136° N 67.8084° E], 21.06.2015;
187. [42.48783° N 67.81094° E], 23.06.2015;
188. [42.60785° N 68.01627° E], 27.06.2015;
189. [42.63169° N 67.94872° E], 27.06.2015;
190. [42.73365° N 67.94539° E], 27.06.2015;
191. [42.62215° N 66.7355° E], 04.05.2016;
192. [41.60146° N 69.13491° E], 04.05.2016;
193. [41.89756° N 68.45643° E], 04.05.2016;
194. [41.85488° N 68.5459° E], 05.05.2016;
195. [41.85211° N 68.54166° E], 04.05.2016;
196. [41.83985° N 68.54055° E], 05.05.2016;
197. [41.8312° N 68.52888° E], 05.05.2016;
Investigations on Distribution, Occurrence and Threats of Varanus griseus caspius in Kazakhstan 199
198. [42.51293; 67.87043° E], 28.05.2016;
199. [42.33212; 67.85662° E], 28.05.2016;
200. [42.37407° N 67.89066° E], 28.05.16;
201. [42.60826° N 67.72128° E], 01.06.2016;
202. [42.72451° N 67.59969° E], 01.06.2016;
203. [43.05717° N 67.55264° E], 01.06.2016;
204. [42.32748° N 67.93365° E], 02.06.2016;
205. [42.27474° N 67.81548° E], 02.06.2016;
206. [42.52197° N 67.8908° E], 03.06.2016;
207. [42.7394° N 67.57737° E], 04.06.2016;
208. [42.72832° N 67.59402° E], 04.06.2016;
209. [42.49756° N 68.04601° E], 5.06.2016;
210. [42.56433° N 67.7706° E], 10.06.2016;
211. [42.56433° N 67.7706° E], 10.06.2016;
212. [43.06743° N 67.40553° E], 12.06.2016;
213. [43.14627° N 67.38245° E], 12.06.2016;
214. [43.22113° N 67.35615° E], 12.06.2016;
215. [42.47567° N 67.68466° E], 18.06.2016;
216. [42.56188° N 68.05599° E], 19.06.2016;
217. [42.67625° N 67.65239° E], 20.06.2016;
218. [42.65905° N 67.6696° E], 20.06.16;
219. [42.65426° N 67.67439° E], 20.06.2016;
220. [42.66969° N 67.6589° E], 20.06.2016;
221. [42.52918° N 67.67812° E], 20.06.2016;
222. [42.50867° N 67.83902° E], 20.06.2016;
223. [42.52398° N 67.89559° E], 20.06.2016;
224. [42.52696° N 67.9021° E], 21.06.2016;
225. [42.5518° N 67.98724° E], 22.06.16;
226. [42.53196° N 67.91358° E], 22.06.2016;
227. [42.48044° N 67.65664° E], 22.06.2016;
228. [42.57725° N 67.75581° E], 23.06.2016;
229. [42.52052° N 67.82398° E], 23.06.2016.
200 Marina A. Chirikova et al.
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Modern conservation efforts are mostly concerned with wildlife living in forests and other natural habitats and are based upon isolating them from human contacts as much as possible. This actually ignores long tradition in India and other parts of the world of common people coexisting with wildlife for generations. In this study, we document the coexistence patterns of three species of monitor lizards with the people in the village ecosystems of southern West Bengal, India. All three are enlisted in the Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act. Their distribution range and abundance patterns are mapped. Complementary pattern of their distributions along with considerable separation of habitat and feeding niches seem to indicate minimized ecological competition among them thus favouring their coexistence. The traditional land use patterns in the village ecosystems provide enough adaptable habitats and food niches for them to survive. Of course, their survival deep inside human habitats depends ultimately on the pro-conservation cultural traditions of local people as revealed by the survey of people's perceptions and attitude towards local monitor populations. Most of the people (>80% to >90%) interviewed wanted them to continue living around them for beneficial roles like natural predator of snake populations and cleansing the surroundings by scavenging on carcasses, as well as for being traditional neighbours.
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The global initiative toward sustainability includes the long term protection of biodiversity. Northern and western Iran are part of the Irano-Anatolian biodiversity hot spot that has many centers of endemism as a biogeographical center for the origin of many amphibian and reptile taxa. A high diversity of habitat types coupled with climatologically diverse environments result in the 13 different physiographic regions that support this biodiversity. The known herpetofauna of Iran comprises approximately 232 reptile and 22 amphibian species belonging to about 100 genera, 31 families, five orders and three suborders. The Squamata with 199 species in 78 genera and 18 families is the most specious reptilian order in Iran and account for approximately 85 percent of the herpetofauna. Fifty five endemic species in 11 families and 22 genera are considered here. At present, numerous factors, including habitat destruction through increased agriculture, as well as vegetation burning and climate change along with increasing risks of desertification have made a major impact on various ecosystems. Further, threats come from exotic species, the use of reptile products in traditional medicine and food, and pollution. There are ten Vulnerable, four Endangered, and seven Critically Endangered herpetofaunal elements in Iran. The establishment of protected areas, participation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in herpetological conservation, and more research of taxonomy, species range and habitats, threats and their mitigation are required for the sustainable management of Iranian herpetofauna. A concerted Iranian and international program for the sustainable management of Iranian herpetofauna is required because of Iran’s biogeographic status, its high level of herpetological diversity and endemicity, and its importance as a global biodiversity hot spot.
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The Yellow Monitor, Varanus flavescens, is protected in most of its range, but there are few studies and little is known of its ecology. We studied Varanus flavescens in the southeastern part of Kanchanpur District in Parasan Village Development Committee to gather information on status and habitat ecology of this species. We assess the distribution, threats, and habitat characteristics of V. flavescens, and its habitat separation from the Bengal Monitor, Varanus bengalensis, using field observations and information from local people. Varanus flavescens was found to be distributed throughout the study area. We document new global records for total length (TL: 952 mm) and weight (1450 g) for the species. Indiscriminate killing is a major threat for survival of the species and most of the killing we found was done by children in agricultural land. Our study suggests that habitat modification might not be as serious a threat as first thought and the species seems to be able to tolerate habitat modification by agriculture. Ground cover was preferred by the species as compared to trees and the species was found to be associated closely with the shrub Impomoea carnea. The habitats of V. flavescens and V. bengalensis were found to be partially separated, with V. flavescens mostly associated with wetter areas and few large trees, whereas V. bengalensis was closely associated with large trees. As V. flavescens does not prefer forests with large trees, conservation programs focusing only on forest protection may not help conserve this species.
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This study comprises the taxonomic status and distribution of Varanus griseus specimens were captured from new localities in southeastern Anatolia. Specimens resemble V. g. griseus in terms of morphometric characters (in having 6 – 9 crossbars on the back; rounded tail in cross section and 22 – 25 crossbars extending almost to tip of tail). Furthermore, the known range of the species was extended in southeastern Anatolia.
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From recent herpetological collections several new amphibian and reptilian taxa have been added to the herpetofauna of Pakistan. Thus raising the number of species from Minton's 144 and Mertens' 178 to 225.
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We update an earlier review (Mertens 1959) of the monitor lizards of Southeast Asia and the Indo-Australian Archipelago, emphasizing the importance of this island region as a center of varanid diversity and endemism. Currently, 44 monitor lizard species (i.e., 60% of the known global varanid diversity) are recognized from this vast study region. New Guinea and the surrounding offshore islands harbor the highest diversity in terms of species (15) and subgenera (four). We provide a detailed identification key to all monitor lizards found in the study area. Moreover, we critically review the conservation status of all monitor lizard species involved as needed in light of urgent conservation issues. Major threats to monitor lizards include: (1) habitat destruction; (2) the international trade in reptile skins and in monitors as pets; and (3) human consumption. Current export figures of seven focal monitor species (i.e., Varanus beccarii, V. boehmei, V. macraei, V. melinus, V. prasinus, V. salvator, and V. yuwonoi) of the commercial skin and pet trade reflect export allowances that are not based on sound information from population studies, meaning that current harvest levels may be unsustainable and could threaten the viability of these Indonesian island endemics. Therefore, these monitor lizard species require special attention by the relevant authorities and conservationists of both the source and the consuming countries. The conservation status of all monitor lizard species and their assessment in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List is in need of a critical update and we strongly recommend the establishment of an IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Monitor Specialist Group. Therefore, this review of distribution, threats, and conservation status of Southeast Asian and Indo-Australian monitor lizards is intended to support customs officers and other government agents in: (1) more strictly enforcing the regulations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); (2) monitoring trade activities, annual harvest levels, and export quotas; (3) in reducing current unsustainable harvest levels; and, (4) in reducing over-exploitation and extinction risks of Varanus spp. in the wild.
During a two-year study of the desert monitor (Varanus griseus) in a sand dune area south of the greater Tel Aviv area 21 adult monitors (8 males and 13 females) were captured and marked. Nine of the above monitors were equipped with radio transmitters, and were followed telemetrically for one year. The telemetered monitors maintained definite home ranges: 0.984 ± 0.165 km2, n = 4 for males and 0.319 ± 0.18 km2, n = 5 for females. The home range areas increased with the number of locations, reaching maxima after 30-70 locations. A considerable overlap of home ranges, between and within sexes, indicated that the species is not territorial. Varanus griseus forages over distances of 2 km or more. These forays often take the lizard through several habitats: unstabilized dunes, dense vegetation, construction areas, ruderal areas and a municipal garbage dump. A sex ratio of 1:1.6 (males:females) differs from that found in many previous Varanus studies.
A Little Book of Monitor Lizards: A Guide to the Monitor Lizards of the World and Their Care in Captivity
  • D Bennett
Bennett D. (1995), A Little Book of Monitor Lizards: A Guide to the Monitor Lizards of the World and Their Care in Captivity, Viper Press, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.