Monitor Lizard at Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda
Varanus sp?
Queen Elizabeth National Park
July 5, 2000
This marvellous monitor was draped over some sort of nest high up in an acacia tree. I suspect it had recently devoured the contents of the nest and was taking a hard-earned rest. Tragically, I didn't steady my camera well for the 400mm hand-held shots on slow film, with the massively fuzzy results displayed here. I shoulda known better. (This picture is cropped to about 1/4 the content of the full frame.)

Based on the ranges of the African monitor lizard species, this must be either Varanus albigularis, the White-throated Monitor, or Varanus niloticus, the Nile monitor. It's hard to estimate the size from such a distance, but I would guess it was between 5 and 6 feet long (including tail). And it was beautifully patterned, which maybe you can slightly tell from this terrible picture. In favor of the Nile monitor: the species is very large and comfortable in trees. In favor of the White-throated monitor: the pattern seems too colorful for an adult Nile monitor, which seem to get pretty plain-colored as they get huge. But I'm not a monitor lizard expert, so I'm waffling.

Please send me mail if you have any further information, reference suggestions, or wild guesses that might help me identify this lizard.

7/8/00 -- After reading up a little more about monitors, I've decided this one is Varanus albigularis, based on (1) very large size with pronounced markings, and (2) not located particularly close to water.

back to Unidentified East African Herps

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