Malayan Water Monitor with a collar

on 5th February 2014

Jasper Lim‘s image of a Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) was photographed around Singapore’s Buona Vista Mass Rapid Transit Station. Around the neck of the lizard is a red collar.

Nature Consultant Subaraj Rajathurai LINK wrote: “I do not think this guy simply sports a cool necklace!” He believes that “…someone tried to catch this guy with a plastic noose but he broke free?”

“Unfortunately, capture and consumption of monitor lizards still goes on in Singapore, despite it being illegal. Due to the lack of enforcement, some people still catch them for food,” adds Subaraj. “I wonder if they still have 2-3 dangling on hooks at Chinatown market during the pre-dawn hours?”

Biologist Dr Leong Tzi Ming agrees that the noose is the remains of a wire noose that may have been used to trap such animals for food. Added Tzi Ming, “…This lucky lizard may have managed to get away.”

The Malayan Water Monitor is quite common near water bodies and canals. It has an important role in the food web, keeping the population of amphibians and reptiles in check. Being a scavenger, it removes rubbish and carrion from the urban environment. And the young lizards serve as food for birds of prey and herons.

People should be discouraged from trapping them. It is a part of Singapore’s biodiversity. Besides, it is a protected animal.

Jasper Lim, Subaraj Rajathurai & Dr Leong Tzi Ming
March 2014

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

7 responses

  1. Can someone highlight this to the press? If the greater public is aware of this, more people can help look out for offenders.

    By the way, personally I have seen mainland Chinese trapping animals here. It’s very common to see them fishing from our canals as well. They eat whatever they catch.

      1. I don’t know about locals – what reason would they have for trapping these animals? I do know foreign workers see these creatures as free food. Besides, they are unaware of our laws regarding trapping animals.

        There was an article in the press a few years ago about some workers catching our urban rats (to eat) and some dying as a result (they probably thought the rats were similar to those they get in their padi fields, which are safe to eat). I think the government needs to educate these people that city living is different from countryside living. Firstly, many animals here are not safe for consumption. Secondly, it is an offence to trap some animals.

  2. Found an article on poaching here:

    Apparently some animals are trapped for food (the wild boars in particular) while others are trapped to be sold as pets.

    Also: “The AVA only allows the house crow, feral pigeon, purple-backed starling, Philippine glossy starling, common myna and the white-vented myna to be trapped and kept without a licence.”

    I’m quite surprised to find it’s ok to trap starlings. Are they that common here?

  3. Dear YC,

    Thank you for contacting Subaraj Rajathurai and Dr Leong for the information and for posting this on BESgroup!

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