Long observation depicts, the population of Bengal monitor, Varanus bengalensis is seriously decreasing in an around the Sundarban areas. The species locally called as “Krishnagodhika”. The largest monitor lizard once found widely over the mangrove swamps of Sundarban. The species severely encountered for its skin globally; even through the city of joy ‘Kolkata’. Some old records allow assuming that around 2 crores monitor skin has been smuggled to foreign market, during the period from 1930-80s only. This is more alarming that it happened only through the Kolkata market!
The ever increasing demand for the skin in foreign countries makes the unique species vulnerable. After commencement of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, the trade drowned its legacy and changed its mode of operation. On the other hand, the species is already classified as scheduled animal as per the above act. Massive habitat destruction due to various socio-economic factors of present era coupled with hunting pressure makes the species endangered. However, the Monitor is being considered as the pilot indicator of mangrove ecosystem. Unfortunately, the forest department is least concern on these smaller species, rather much concerned on the bigger animals like Tiger, Rhino, Gaur etc.
It is highly commendable that the species maintain an ecological balance by engulfing eggs of bird, toad, and other lizards. This second largest lizard prefers swampy wetlands and damp creeks. In Indonesia, the Monitor ranked next to “Komodo Dragon”. Few years ago at Digha coastal areas a large monitor was captured (10 feet 3 inches) that immediately submerged into the sea after getting released. They swim well and love to spend most of the time in water bodies. Sometimes they appear in nearby villages in search of food. In Sundarbans, monitor mostly found all through the tiger project areas and appears a good pray-base to the tigers and crocodiles.
The gestation period of the Monitor is in the month of June-July .The female species lay eggs in dried muddy elevated areas by digging holes and hide it to save from any predators. Unfortunately some human activities for the maintenance of embankment areas the large number of monitor eggs destroyed unconsciously which gives a threat in the diversity.
According to CITES convention, the Yellow monitors are under severe survival threat due to massive demand of its skin. The skin of this species shines like gold which is caused for its higher demand in leather industry; i.e. ladies bags, child’s jacket or belt. So, the ever increasing global demand for its skin makes the species vulnerable. According to some local sources, this species is regularly captured from Kolkata nearby areas and sold internationally through some well chained illegal channel. The main supply chain is controlled from Bantala, Chinrighata areas adjoining to the EM Bypass and Science city.
Golden Monitors are preferably found in dried loamy soil of agricultural fields. They generally wandered from place to place for the whole daytime in search of food and hide themselves in grassland areas for catching prey. Few years back, the species was abundantly found in wetlands of North & South 24PGS districts. They have tremendous adaptability throughout the range of Ganga-Brahmaputra river basin. This is also reported that, their population is seriously dwindling in the neighboring countries like Nepal and Bangladesh!
Monitors are considered farmer’s friend by engulfing this harmful pests. During the gestation period, female monitors profusely consume frogs, eggs of different reptiles and thus play a vital role in maintaining the ecosystem. In West Bengal, female monitors usually lay eggs, generally found beside large grasslands and make a deep tunnel by borrowing soil with long pointed curved nails. They usually lay 20-30 eggs in a litter. The new ones generally take 5 months to wean-out, so the reproductive circle is not so frequent. The life span of monitors is not beyond is 4-5 years. Now the situation becomes worsened as this Yellow Monitor species is on the verge of extinction! An immediate anti poaching action should be taken-up to conserve this unique species in the wild.
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