Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator)
Lorong Halus, 29th April 2017

This very young Malayan Water Monitor had most likely been hit and killed by a passing vehicle.

Photos: Levin Foo Facebook and Junyan Kau Facebook

Water Monitor Lizard spotted on Upper Serangoon Road during peak hour
By Melissa Zhu, 4th February 2017;

Motorists along Upper Serangoon Road on Friday evening (Feb 3) had to make their way around an unusual roadblock – a huge Water Monitor Lizard (Varanus salvator) lying across more than half a lane.

A Facebook Live video posted at 5.18pm showed the reptile sprawled on the road, unmoving, for about a minute, while cars manoeuvred around it.

The man who took the video, who wanted to be identified only as “Mr Lim” said he spotted a “black shadow” on the road before the exit to the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway. As it was raining at the time, he said he initially thought that the object was rubbish or fallen branches.

It was only when he saw the Lizard’s head move that he realised what it was.

Mr Lim added that he was able to take the video as he had stopped at a red light, near the reptile, but moved on when the lights changed.

Another witness, who wanted to be identified as “Mr Foo”, told Channel NewsAsia that the Lizard – which he took to be a Crocodile at first – was alive when he passed it, and that he saw it slowly moving to the side.

Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) deputy chief executive Kalai Vanan told Channel NewsAsia that members of the animal rights group went to the scene, but could not find the Water Monitor Lizard.

Mr Kalai added that the group saw photos that showed the Lizard upside down, suggesting that it could have been run over by a vehicle.

“This part of Upper Serangoon Road is close to adjacent nature areas – mainly Upper Serangoon River and Punggol Park. The Lizard probably got stranded trying to cross the road,” he said.

Mr Kalai said that ACRES would continue to monitor the situation to see if it would get further calls about the Lizard. He also urged members of the public to call ACRES at +65 9783 7782 if they saw wild animals in distress.

“However, when spotted on roads, time is of the essence. If possible and it is safe, members of public can try and divert traffic while waiting for our arrival. This will ensure the safety of the animal and drivers or riders.”

The Water Monitor is the most common Monitor Lizard found in Singapore and can grow as long as three metres, according to NParks’ website, which added that the reptiles can be found in forests and mangrove swamps, as well as man-made canals.

Source: Channel NewsAsia

There was a slight traffic jam as vehicles slowed to avoid running over the creature.
Photo: Levin Foo Facebook

Monitor Lizard ‘run over’ after holding up traffic near KPE exit in Buangkok
By Lydia Lam, 3rd February 2017;

A large Monitor Lizard (Varanus salvator) was seen on a road in the Buangkok area near the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) on Friday (Feb 3), causing a slight traffic jam as vehicles carefully manoeuvred around it.

A photo of the reptile was posted on Facebook by Mr Levin Foo, 31, at 6.07pm on Friday.

Mr Foo, who is self-employed, told The Straits Times that the creature was 2m to 3m long and appeared to him like a Crocodile at first.

It occupied the second lane on a road in Buangkok, at the KPE exit towards Sengkang.

Mr Foo tried honking at the Lizard to get it to move, along with other motorists, but it did not budge initially.

He then got out of the car in the rain, along with another motorist, and tried to coax the Lizard to the side.

“Everyone tried to avoid it,” said Mr Foo. “Others took pictures from inside their cars.”

There was a slight traffic jam as vehicles slowed to avoid running over the creature, which Mr Foo said could have come from a nearby canal.

The Lizard was unhurt when he left and had moved to the side of the road, Mr Foo said. He and his friend tried contacting the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) to retrieve the lizard.

Deputy chief executive officer of ACRES, Mr Kalai Vanan, told The Straits Times on Friday that ACRES was aware of the incident.

Mr Kalai, who manages the animal care and wildlife rescue department, said they had received updated photos and believe the animal was run over and has died, although ACRES has not yet confirmed this.

The Lizard could have come from the surrounding green spaces including the Sungei Serangoon Park Connector and Punggol Park, he said.

“Water Monitor Lizards are commonly found throughout the island,” said Mr Kalai. “Unfortunately, because we are heavily urbanised, wild animals often get stranded, and in this case, fall victims to traffic accidents.”

In November last year, water sport activities in Marina Reservoir were suspended after the sighting of a Monitor Lizard which was initially mistaken for a Crocodile.

In September last year, a Monitor Lizard wandered onto the Singapore Grand Prix circuit during final practice.

Source: The Straits Times

Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator)
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, 28th December 2014

This carcass of a Malayan Water Monitor was found on the mudflats at Eagle Point. A photo was taken by Sankar Ananthanarayanan and shared on Facebook.

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Malaysia: Animal cruelty displayed at its best as man repeatedly runs over Monitor Lizard to death with his motorcycle
8th December 2016;

Whatever the reason may be, animal cruelty is never acceptable.

A video of a man repeatedly running over – what appears to be – a Monitor Lizard with his motorcycle has enraged netizens, condemning the act as inhumane and uncalled for.

The video that ran for a minute and thirty-three seconds depict the man on his motorcycle abusing the animal for “eating their fish stocks” while his fellow counterpart records and can be heard laughing like a hyena in the background.

But clearly running it over wasn’t enough for the man as he then proceeds to hit the Lizard with a stick – presumably a hoe until it appeared dead.

Oomedianetworks uploaded the video on their Facebook page yesterday and received over 17k views, and netizens didn’t refrain from expressing their two cents.

Clearly, there are other civilised and humane ways for the duo to tackle the animal, like capturing it and releasing it elsewhere or buck up their security – it didn’t have to come to this as no animal deserves to endure such torment.

Source: Malaysian Digest

Thailand: Kindness is ‘here’
28th June 2016;

Social media members show their respect and admiration for a group of people who worked together to rescue a Malayan Water Monitor Lizard (Varanus salvator) that was hit by a car in Bangkok.

Facebook user Jira Niyom posted several photos of the rescue on Monday and wrote: “I would like to thank Soonthorn Katecha for paying the bills and contacting the veterinarian, Juk Noppol for placing traffic cones around the injured monitor lizard to prevent other vehicles running over it, Rachane for taking the animal to the vet, Dr Piyawutthi for deducting his professional fee, and Chantharang for a donation.”

Net users praised this group of “kind hearted” people for unreservedly helping Thailand’s “most hated” reptile. The Thai world for a Monitor Lizard sounds like “here” and the term is mostly used as a curse, like the “F word”, to express disgust, anger, sadness or surprise.

A Facebook user commented that all lives are precious, and the Monitor Lizard was fortunate to meet these nice volunteers.

“The Monitor Lizard is now safe and has been released. If the animal understood the situation, I believe it would want to say ‘thank you’ to these people,” the poster wrote.

Source: Bangkok Post

Happy New Year everybody!

Here are some of my favourite finds of 2015:

Upper Left: Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

I was awestruck (and also very sad) to see such an impressively large (~1.7 – 2 metres long) Malayan Water Monitor dead by the side of the road, possibly hit by a vehicle.

Upper Right: Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) @ Pasir Ris Park

There is a nesting colony of Grey Herons in Pasir Ris Park. It’s quite strange that they chose to nest in an area with quite a lot of human traffic and noise, but the colony seems to be expanding over the years. I’ve been looking at these herons for some time, but 2015 was the first time I could walk beneath the trees they nest in, and found chicks that had fallen out or otherwise didn’t make it.

Lower Left: Palm King (Amathusia phidippus phidippus) @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Earlier in 2015, one of my colleagues found a caterpillar and kept it for a while. Shortly after, it pupated, and when the adult butterfly emerged, we learnt that it was a Palm King, and released it. Several months later, another colleague found a dead Palm King near our office. I doubt it was the same individual that we’d released though. Also, I’m really lousy at identifying butterflies, but thanks to these two encounters with Palm Kings, I now know how to identify this species in the field.

Lower Right: Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

One of the most elusive and rarest of our native mammals, and the last wild cat species still extant in Singapore. Leopard Cats are known to inhabit Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, but finding a carcass was really unexpected.

Centre: Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) @ Singapore Strait

Finally, a carcass I didn’t actually see for myself, but this has got to be the most spectacular dead animal finding of the year.

Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator)
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, 30th March 2015

This massive Malayan Water Monitor, approximately 1.8 metres in length, was found dead by the roadside, right outside the Kranji Way Entrance of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. It’s not known what led to this individual’s death; one likely scenario is that it had been mortally wounded after getting hit by a vehicle while crossing the road, made it across, then died from its injuries.

I’ve seen my fair share of monitor lizard carcasses, but this one was especially sad. This particular monitor lizard had managed to beat the odds, surviving all sorts of challenges, only to succumb to possibly yet another speeding driver.

Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator)
Pasir Ris, 6th September 2014

This very young Malayan Water Monitor, presumably a roadkill, was seen by Riane Brittany Francisco and Holly Siow.

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Assorted vertebrates of Singapore:

Malesian Frog (Limnonectes malesianus) (Upper Left), Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) (Middle Left), Spanner Barb (Systomus lateristriga) & Two-spot Rasbora (Rasbora elegans) (Lower Left) & Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) (Right)

Malesian Frog (Limnonectes malesianus) (Upper Left): This is one of Singapore’s largest native frogs, growing up to 15 cm in length. Found in shallow streams, puddles, and swamps in forests, this frog is restricted to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Central Catchment Area, and the Western Catchment.

Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) (Middle Left): Singapore’s largest lizard, the Malayan Water Monitor is found in diverse habitats close to water, from mangroves and beaches to marshes and ponds, reservoirs and monsoon canals. Growing to 2 metres on average, its huge size means that it is often confused with its even larger relative, the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis). An excellent swimmer, individuals in the water are sometimes mistaken for crocodiles. Another misnomer is “iguana”, which are a family of lizards not native to the region.

Highly versatile and opportunistic, this carnivore consumes all manner of animal matter; any smaller creature is fair game, as are eggs and carrion. Monitor lizards have forked tongues like those of snakes, which they flick in and out of their mouths to detect scents. Malayan Water Monitors are also skilled climbers, and can be found basking on branches or hiding in tree holes.

The powerful tail is the Malayan Water Monitor’s primary means of propulsion in the water, and is also used like a whip when the lizard is cornered. The teeth are employed as weapons if necessary, and the sharp claws can do a lot of damage if the lizard is seized and struggles, but the Malayan Water Monitor is not dangerous and prefers to flee if approached.

Adult males are sometimes seen engaging in wrestling matches, rearing up on their hind limbs and trying to shove each other to the ground. The winner is the one that manages to pin down its opponent.

Although this lizard is adaptable and capable of living in urban Singapore, individuals in some areas might be at risk due to poaching for meat and entanglement in fishing gear.

Spanner Barb (Systomus lateristriga) & Two-spot Rasbora (Rasbora elegans) (Lower Left): Schools of these fishes can be found in clear streams and freshwater swamps in forests of the Central Catchment Area. Both of these species can grow up to 15 cm in length. Many of our native freshwater fishes are popular in the aquarium trade, and while poaching might pose a threat to some of our wild populations, habitat destruction and the spread of invasive species are likely to pose bigger threats to the survival of Singapore’s native freshwater life.

Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) (Right): This is a bird that can be considered ubiquitous, due to it being widespread and common in many habitats throughout Singapore. Found in wooded areas, mangroves, parks and gardens, and even in urban housing estates, where it feeds mostly on fruits and insects, this member of the cuckoo family is surprisingly hard to spot despite its size, as it is shy and spends most of its time in dense cover in the trees. However, its extremely loud and unmistakable call means that it certainly makes its presence known, sometimes to the annoyance of people, as koels can start calling before dawn, and continue late into the night.

The male is a dark glossy black, whereas the female is more cryptically patterned with brown and white. In the past, it was considered an uncommon winter visitor, but in recent decades, it has also become established as a breeding resident. Like many other cuckoo species, the Asian Koel is a brood parasite, laying its eggs in the nests of other birds and leaving them to raise its young. Several species of birds are known to serve as hosts, but in Singapore, the primary host is another common bird, the House Crow (Corvus splendens). Introduced to Singapore in the 1940s from the Indian subcontinent, the House Crow has flourished here, and this in turn has benefited the Asian Koel.

House Crow nests with newly-laid eggs are targeted by Asian Koels. A female koel may sneak in and lay her egg, which is almost identical to a crow egg in size and colour, when the occupants are away. It’s not confirmed whether she also removes any of the crows’ eggs at the same time, as is seen in other species of cuckoo. In some cases, koels will work in pairs. When a suitable nest is found, the male will position himself nearby in a prominent location, calling loudly. This prompts the pair of crows to give chase, and while they are away, this is the opportunity for the female koel, hiding in dense cover nearby, to deposit her egg in the nest.

The crows are none the wiser, and will care for the koel’s offspring as if it was one of their own. The koel chick hatches before the crows’ own young do, and its constant begging and faster growth rate means that the crows are likely to focus all their efforts on the koel, at their own brood’s expense. Even after fledging, the juvenile koel will continue to be fed by the crows for a few weeks.

These were some of the many specimens featured at the recently concluded Festival of Biodiversity 2014, which was held at VivoCity last weekend.