Varanus bengalensis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Varanidae

Scientific Name: Varanus bengalensis (Daudin, 1802)
Common Name(s):
English Bengal Monitor Lizard, Clouded Monitor, Common Indian Monitor
Monitor gemmatus Guérin-Méneville, 1829
Tupinambis bengalensis Daudin, 1802
Tupinambis cepedianus Daudin, 1802
Varanus punctatus Merrem, 1820
Taxonomic Notes: This species has two subspecies:
V. bengalensis bengalensis (Daudin, 1802).
V. bengalensis nebulosus (Gray, 1831)

V. irrawadicus Yang and Li, 1987 and V. vietnamensis Yang and Liu, 1994 were previously described as nominal species, but both were synonymized with V. bengalensis by Böhme and Ziegler (1997). The same authors raised V. bengalensis nebulosus (Gray, 1831) to full species status based on a V. bengalensis bengalensis specimen obtained from a market in Phuket (which is within the range of V. b. nebulosus), which was thought to prove the sympatry between the two forms, together with differences in hemipenial structure. However, it is widely accepted that it instead represents a geographic race of V. bengalensis, based on a very detailed study of geographic variation in V. bengalensis across its range (Auffenberg 1994).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-06-30
Assessor(s): Papenfuss, T., Shafiei Bafti, S., Sharifi, M., Bennett, D. & Sweet, S.S.
Reviewer(s): Cox, N., Temple, H.J. (Global Reptile Assessment Coordinating Team) & Böhm, M., Collen, B., Ram, M. (Sampled Red List Index Coordinating Team)
Contributor(s): De Silva, R., Lewis, S., Lintott, P., Milligan, H.T., Powney, G., Sears, J., Wearn, O.R., Wilson, P., Wren, S. & Zamin, T.
Varanus bengalensis has been assessed as Least Concern. This species has a wide range across south central and Southeast Asia and it inhabits a variety of habitats. However, certain threats are affecting the species, and this has led to eradication in parts of its range. It is hunted for food, for its fat which is used for medicinal purposes, and for its skins which are sold commercially. With increasing human population pressures across this species' range, these threats are likely to become more severe in the future. As a result, further research and monitoring of this species is needed to ensure that a threat category is not triggered in the future. The establishment and management of new protected areas where this species is protected from hunting is needed to provide refuge sites from persecution.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This wide ranging Varanid is found from southeastern Iran, through south central Asia (ranging from Afghanistan in the north as far south as Sri Lanka) and eastwards throughout Southeast Asia, as far as Java and the Anambas Islands in Indonesia. However, in the last century, this species has been exterminated from parts of Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh. Although there are some old specimens purportedly from Sumatra, no recent records seem to exist (e.g. Auffenberg 1994). This species has an upper limit of 1,500 m above sea level.
Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; Bangladesh; Cambodia; China; India; Indonesia (Jawa, Sumatera); Iran, Islamic Republic of; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Myanmar; Nepal; Pakistan; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Viet Nam
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):1500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:In some agricultural areas, this species has been found to be common (Auffenberg 1989). Density estimates varied greatly between different habitats in northern India and Pakistan, from an average of two individuals per km² recorded on the edge of a seasonally flooded evaporation basin in Rajasthan to just under 40 individuals on average per km² in marsh habitat in Pakistan (Auffenberg 1994). Various techniques were used to derive these estimates, so that the numbers are not directly comparable (Auffenberg 1994). Densities were also found to be relatively high in agricultural habitats, from around 14 to 30 individuals per km² (Auffenberg 1994). In the more arid parts of its range it probably occurs at reasonably low densities. Although present on Java, the species is reportedly very scarce and localized (S. Sweet pers. comm.).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is found in a variety of habitats, from desert areas to floodplains, scrubland to forests, at moderate elevations (Auffenberg 1994, Pianka 2004). It can also inhabit agricultural areas (Auffenberg 1994).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater
Generation Length (years):11

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is harvested for a number of uses: the skins are commercially valuable, the meat is eaten, and the fat is used in traditional medicine.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is possibly threatened by habitat destruction, however, as it can utilize a wide range of habitat types this is not considered a major threat at this time. This species is indirectly affected by pesticides which reduce the food resource availability in agricultural areas. However, perhaps the greatest threat to this species is hunting as it is hunted commercially for its skin, and its meat is commonly eaten. The fat of this species is also used in traditional medicine. In Iran, it is killed by people who mistakenly consider it to be dangerous; it is not hunted for food or skins in that country.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species occurs in many protected areas across its extensive range and it is protected in a number of countries by national legislation because it is currently listed on Appendix I of CITES. Further research into the harvest levels, threats, trends and habitat status of this species is needed. The establishment and management of new protected areas where it is illegal to hunt this species should be carried out to provide a refuge from persecution.

Citation: Papenfuss, T., Shafiei Bafti, S., Sharifi, M., Bennett, D. & Sweet, S.S. 2010. Varanus bengalensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T164579A5909661. . Downloaded on 25 September 2018.
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