Varanus (Reptilia; Varanidae) from Arfak Mountain Strict Nature Reserve


Freddy Pattiselanno1, Eny Rahayu2 & Jacobus Wanggai3

1Animal Science Laboratory, 2Previous student at Faculty of Forestry, 3Biodiversity Study Centre Universitas Negeri Papua (UNIPA) Manokwari

Monitor lizards (Varanus spp) are utilized by native Papuans as a source of animal protein, while their skins are an important material used as ornaments and tifa traditional music instrument that is commonly played in ritual ceremonies.  A study conducted by Philip (1999) indicated that Varanus species are also hunted by local hunters for sale to reptile dealers.

The study of varanus species is very rare in Papua, especially at Arfak Mountain Strict Nature Reserve (AMSNR), where the presence of these species have been proofed by local people and colleague from Universitas Negeri Papua.  Therefore, we conducted a preliminary study to identify varanus species occurred in AMSNR.

Arfak Mountain Strict Nature Reserve

AMSNR located in the bird head region of Papua with an area of 68.325 ha, is a protected area that contains various endemic species of Papua.  Preliminary observations and informal interviews conducted with local people at ANSR indicate that monitor lizards occur in the protected site, and are commonly utilized in many forms by local people (Picture 1).

The AMSNR situated from the coastal to the highland site ranging from 20-2.800m above sea level.  The highest peak was Humeibou Pass, found as the source of Mupi, Warmare and Prafi Rivers.  Topographically, the area is hilly with the moderate to steep slopes

Our survey was focused on the central observation point in the eastern part of the site particularly in three villages that comprehensively chosen (Mupi, Acemo and Warkapi).  The vegetation types found in the survey areas are classified as; mangrove forest, mixed alluvium forest, mixed hill forest and primary lowland rain forest.  The characteristic plants of each vegetation types are described in the result section.

Temperatures are uniformly high in the lowlands, which range from about 23oC to 30oC, decreasing with elevation to a mean daily temperature of about 16oC at 2000 m. Relative humidity is also uniformly high, ranging from 80 to 100 percent.

Varanus species in AMNSR

Table 1. Varanus species found in the survey areas

Local dialect Papuan dialect Vernacular name Scientific name
Phot Syei Soa Soa Tanah Mangrove monitor Varanus indicus (Daudin 1802)
Phot Dry Soa Soa Hijau Green tree monitor Varanus prasinus (Schlegel 1839)
Phot Mingras Soa Soa Bintang Papua monitor Varanus salvadorii (Peters and Doria 1878)

Varanus indicus (Daudin 1802)

During the field work specimen was collected in the mangrove area at 0-5m above sea level as well as the forest stream site at the 40m above sea level. The temperature recorded in mangrove site was around 28-29oC on 09.30am. Commonly, this species was occupied the mangrove site approximately 20m from the main road of Warkapi village (Picture 2).

Conversely, close to water bodies, this species was observed on 11.00 hours along the watershed catchment in the forest, the temperature recorded around 28 – 30oC.  The surrounding was relatively dense, and the sunlight was directly passed through the canopy.

Varanus prasinus (Schlegel 1839)

During the survey, this species was commonly observed basking on trees and sometimes foraging on the forest floor.  A specimen was observed and caught at 12.15 hours when the temperature was about 30-310 C on the ground at 220m above sea level, about 2km west of Warkapi village (Picture 3).

Local people acknowledged that this species was rarely utilized by people for meat or skin, because the animals were too small. Similar to V. indicus V. prasinus was also identified from its skin color: light green with black line across the top and always active above the tree.

Varanus salvadorii (Peters and Doria 1878)

V. salvadorii was commonly employed remote mountainous forest site where human access was rare. Specimen of this species was found around ± 3 km at the western part of Warkapi village at the 650m above sea level, was actively moving around forest floor. It was found during the day on 14.00 hours, and the temperature was recorded around 29-31 0 C.  The situation was bright because more sunny were passed through the canopy of huge tree, at the very dense location (Picture 4).

Note:

  • Full paper is published in Biodiversitas Vol. 8 (1): 114-117 / April 2007
  • Pictures of varanus are obtained from images in website
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  • By Mangrove Monitor Lizard Pictures on May 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    […] Varanus (Reptilia; Varanidae) from Arfak Mountain Strict Nature … Preliminary observations and informal interviews conducted with local people at ANSR indicate that monitor lizards occur in the protected site, and are commonly utilized in many forms by local people (Picture 1). The vegetation types found in the survey areas are classified as; mangrove forest, mixed alluvium forest, mixed hill forest and primary lowland rain forest. The characteristic plants of each vegetation types are described in the result section. […]

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