KALAIGAON, April 19 - The rescue of 25 young monitor lizards (Varamus bengalensis or the Common Indian monitor)at Udmari village in Darrang district and their subsequent release in a biodiversity park at Kalaigaon in Udalguri district has brought a ray of hope to nature lovers and wildlife activists.
Wildlife activists assisted by nature loving villagers � Mahesh Deka, Biraj Deka and Niren Deka of Udmari village successfully rescued 25 young monitor lizards and half-hatched eggs at Udamari village on April 4 recently. When the eggs hatched, 19 healthy monitor babies were released at Kanaklata Das Bio-diversity Park at Kalaigaon on April 12. Six weak and sick young reptiles could not be released that day. Fortunately, all the young monitor lizards recovered well and were released in the same place at a formal awareness field ceremony on April 18 at 11 am.
An awareness field workshop was arranged on the behaviour of snakes, owls and monitor lizards in the presence of more than hundred students and teachers of three schools � Kalaigaon Girls� High School, Lokapriya Bordoloi Public School and Kalaigaon Girls MV School. DN Hazarika, SDO (S), Udalguri who is also known for his love for wildlife, attended the ceremony to thank the wildlife activists, teachers and students for the coming forward for conservation of flora and fauna.
Other distinguished people of Kalaigaon namely Kamal Prasad Sarma, Mouzadar; Binu Deka Saikia, HM, Kallaigaon Girls� High School;social worker Bakul Sarkar etc., also attended the field workshop-cum-release ceremony which was briefed by wildlife activist Jayanta K Das.
It needs mention that the common Indian monitor lizard or Bengal monitor can reach nearly 175 cm in length. Males are generally larger than females. Heavy individuals may weigh nearly 7.2 kg. Bengal monitors are usually solitary and found on the ground, although the young are often seen on trees. V. b. Nebulosus has a greater propensity for tree climbing. Bengal monitors shelter in burrows they dig or crevices in rocks and buildings, whilst clouded monitors prefer tree hollows. Both races will make use of abandoned termite mounds. Bengal monitors, like other varanids, show true sleep at night and are diurnal, becoming active around 6 am and bask in the morning sun. During winter, in the colder parts of their distribution range, they may take shelter and go through a period of reduced metabolic activity.
They are not territorial, and may change their range seasonally in response to food availability. They are usually shy and avoid humans. They have keen eyesight and can detect human movement nearly 250 m away. When caught, a few individuals may bite, but rarely do so.They are capable of rapid movement on the ground. Small individuals may climb trees to escape, but larger ones prefer to escape on the ground.They can climb well. On the ground, they sometimes stand on the hind legs to get a better view or when males fight other males.They can also swim well and can stay submerged for at least 17 minutes.Unfortunately, most of the monitor lizards of Assam have been disappearing fast due to deforeststion and urbanisation.