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Varanus exanthematicus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA VARANIDAE

Scientific Name: Varanus exanthematicus
Species Authority: (Bosc, 1792)
Common Name(s):
English Savannah Monitor, Bosc's Monitor
Synonym(s):
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.
Justification:
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.)..
Countries:
Native:
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; South 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

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is hunted for food in some west African countries and is used in traditional medicine. It is also 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). From 1975-1986, 13,000 live exports and 1,370,000 skins exports were reported (King and Green 1999). The CITES database recorded just short of 650,000 individuals traded in the period from 1075 - 2005 (Pernetta 2009). There is also some largely unknown, yet likely significant, skin trade occurring in the Sudan and potentially also in Nigeria and other countries in the eastern part of this species' range (D. Bennett pers. comm.).

This species breeds very rarely in captivity; however, a large number of gravid females are taken from the wild every year for ranching purposes, but survival rates of females after egg-laying are likely to be very low so that the system requires annual collections of wild females for restocking (D. Bennett pers. comm.).

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. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 30 October 2014.
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