Investigations on Distribution, Occurrence and Threats of Varanus griseus caspius (Eichwald, 1831) at the North-Eastern Periphery of its Geographical Range (Kazakhstan)

Marina A. Chirikova, Yulia A. Zima, Mark V. Pestov, Boris M. Gubin, Andrey V. Kovalenko


Studies in 2008 – 2016 clarified the northeastern border of the range of the subspecies Varanus griseus caspius (Eichwald, 1831) within Kazakhstan territory and provided the data on its occurrence. New data showed that the monitor is wide-spread in more eastern regions than it was known previously, reaching as far as Saryagash town (Southern Kazakhstan Region). At the north-eastern periphery of its geographical range, desert monitor inhabits turfed hilly sands, foothill steppes, gullies and residual mountains. Occurrence on road surveys was 0.02 – 0.1 spec./km, and 0.3 – 1.3 spec./km on walking routes. The major threats to the desert monitor in Kazakhstan is a direct destruction by humans. Between 2008 and 2016, in total, we encountered 28 dead specimens on the road. The interviews showed that near shepherds’ houses in Kyzylkum Desert about one to two desert monitors are killed every year. For the first time for Kazakhstan has been obtained information about illegal hunting of V. griseus for alternative medicine purposes. The organization of specially protected natural areas on territories most favorable for desert monitor, alongside with systematic advocacy of their protection among the local population are recommended.


Varanus griseus; Kazakhstan; northern boundary of distribution; biotope; threats

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