Varanus exanthematicus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Varanus exanthematicus
Species Authority: (Bosc, 1792)
Common Name/s:
English Savannah Monitor, Bosc's Monitor
Lacerta exanthematicus Bosc, 1792
Varanus ocellatus Heyden in Rüppell, 1830

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-06-30
Assessor/s: Bennett, D. & Sweet, S.S.
Reviewer/s: Böhm, M., Collen, B. & Ram, M. (Sampled Red List Index Coordinating Team)
Contributor/s: De Silva, R., Milligan, H.T., Wearn, O.R., Wren, S., Zamin, T., Sears, J., Wilson, P., Lewis, S., Lintott, P. & Powney, G.
Varanus exanthematicus has been assessed as Least Concern. Although the species is the most common Varanid in the pet trade, current exploitation levels have been deemed sustainable. However, in addition to the known levels of exploitation, a largely unknown and possibly significant skin trade exists in the Sudan, and similar trade may also occur in Nigeria and other countries in the eastern part of this species' range. Further research and monitoring is clearly needed to ensure that the levels of exploitation do not increase and cause any future decline. The expansion and management of protected areas should provide a refuge from hunting.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is a widespread Varanid, found in Sub-Saharan Africa north of the equator (Bennett 2004). It is known to occur from West Africa through to southwestern Ethiopia and northwestern Kenya, but there is no evidence of its occurrence further east (S. Sweet pers. comm.). It is unlikely to be common at elevations above 800 m above sea level (D. Bennett pers.comm.)..
Benin; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Ethiopia; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Liberia; Mali; Mauritania; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Sudan; Togo; Uganda
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is common in some habitats, particularly in sparsely inhabited areas and those that are protected.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is restricted to grasslands and agricultural areas within the savannah belt (D. Bennett pers. comm.). Within and around low-intensity agricultural areas, population densities can be quite high (Bennett and Thakoordyal 2003).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is threatened by various processes. It is hunted for food in some west African countries and is used in traditional medicine. This species is heavily exploited in both the skin and pet trade. It is the most common Varanid in the pet trade and more than 100,000 wild individuals are exported every year (Bennett 2001). Based on extensive field study, Bennett and Thakoordyal (2003) conclude that even the present high level of collection for export is sustainable. It should be noted, however, that in certain locations, populations may be under threat and declining, but this is not a range-wide occurrence.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on CITES Appendix II. It is likely that areas of this species' distribution coincide with protected areas. Further research into the harvest levels of this species is suggested. The expansion and management of protected areas within this species range could provide a valuable refuge for this species from hunting. Community-based initiatives could help slow localized population declines of this species.
Citation: Bennett, D. & Sweet, S.S. 2010. Varanus exanthematicus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 24 April 2014.
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