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Common Name : Asian Water Monitor     -       Scientific Name : Varanus salvator       -       Other Name : Kabara goya, Kabaraya (S)
Weli Ela
Weli Ela

This is the second largest lizard species in the world next to the Komodo Monitor (Komodo Dragon) found in the Indonesian Islands. Other than in Sri Lanka this species is found in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Carolina Islands, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nicobar Islands, Philippines, Singapore, South China, Thailand, and Vietnam. Six subspecies of this interesting lizard are recognized.

  • The nominate subspecies that is found in Sri Lanka the Asian Water Monitor Varanus salvator salvator is endemic to the island.
  • The Andamn Island Water Monitor Varanus salvator andamanensis is found in the Andaman Islands.
  • The two-striped Water Monitor Varanus salvator bivittatus is found in the islands of Indonesia.
  • The Black Water Monitor  Varanus salvator komaini is found in Thailand.
  • The Southeast Asian Water Monitor Varanus salvator macromaculatus is found in mainland Southeast Asia, Singapore, Sumatra and Borneo.
  • The Ziegler’s Water Monitor Varanus salvator ziegleri is found in the Obi Island.

The conservation status of this species is regarded as Least Concerned (National Red List 2012).

This is a species protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance as amended by Act No. 22 of 2009.

I have seen this species to be most common in the wet zone marsh and mangrove areas. The highest attitude at which I have seen it was in the Knuckles forest reserve at 1200 meters. In the dry zone I have seen it at Kalametiya, Wellawaya, Anuradapura, Rajangana and Udawalawa National Park.

At Attidiya I once observed one of these lizards get in to a pool of water and use its body and the tail quite skillfully to trap fish and frogs by shifting towards the edge with an arched body.

This species is not common in Wilpattu. During the last three years I observed it only on three occasions at Weli Ela and Maha Wewa road.