Butaan Project 

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Camera Trapping
Diet and Seed Dispersal
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Since 1999 the Butaan Project has been studying the rare, endangered, and unique fruit-eating monitor lizards of the Philippines.  Butaan is just one of several races of frugivorous monitor lizards in the Philippines ("Putras Biawak"), all of which are of at least as great a conservation concern as the Komodo dragon, but recieve virtually none of the attention. Putras Biawak occur only in lowland dipterocarp forest. The first species (Butaan) was discovered in 1845 and not seen alive by a scientist until the late 1970s. The next species (Mabitang) was discovered in 2001. Other species remain undescribed, and some may have gone extinct without ever having been recognised.

Varanus bitatawa
Varanus bitatawa is the third species of  monitor lizard to be recognised by science that belongs to the "Putras Biawak" group,  all of which are of at least as great a conservation concern as the Komodo dragon, but receive virtually none of the attention. Putras Biawak occur only in lowland dipterocarp forest. The first species (Varanus olivaceus or Butaan) was discovered in 1845 and not seen alive by a scientist until the late 1970s. The next species (Varanus mabitang or Mabitang) was discovered in 2001 and in 2010 Varanus bitatawa (Butikaw or Bitatawa) was described. Other species of frugivorous monitor lizards may remain undescribed, but many may have  gone extinct without ever having been recognised. more
      



The Butaan Project has developed many non-intrusive ways to study these extremely shy lizards, including the use of camera traps to monitor populations and a long-term study of the animals' role as seed dispersers on Polillo Island. We have trained many field workers in our non-intrusive techniques, with some very exciting results! The Butaan Project operates on less than $6000 per year and welcomes financial assistance.




Polillo island- google earth



The dark green patch at center left is the last remaining fragment of unlogged lowland dipterocarp forest on Polillo Island, and our main study site for the last 11 years.
This is a young Butaan learning to eat fruit. It is cropped from a video originally about 5 minutes long. Made with a Trailmaster 770 passive infrared trail monitor and a Sony TVR camcorder.



      
Conservation Photo Galleries
Camera Trapping
Diet and Seed Dispersal
Overview
Survey Techniques
Meet the Team
Donate
Volunteer