Distribution of Water Monitor (Varanus salvator salvator) in Bellanwila-Attidiya Sanctuary, Sri Lanka
throughout Sri Lanka in wet, dry and intermediate zones below 500 m
elevation. Global conservation status and national conservation status are both in the Least
Concerned (LC) category.
The field was visited four days a month during the day time (08:00 to 18:00 hrs). Visual
Encounter Studies (VES), and patch sampling was used along 200 m line transect for census.
At the same time, reptile species observed were recorded. Four habitat types were
distinguished according to dominant plant types, water cover percentage, grass cover
percentage and floating vegetation percentage. The four habitats were identified as bog area
with trees, muddy area with grass, slowly flowing canal and trees in the terrestrial habitat.
Number of feedings and food types was recorded. During this period, number of garbage
dumping sites in each habitat and area of the garbage sites were measured. Data analysis was
done using Minitab™ 14 software.
Twenty eight reptile species were recorded in the present study. Relative abundance of V.
salvator is 38.47% within the sanctuary. Total sightings of V. salvator during the study
period were 1,219. Number of animal sightings was 373 from bog area with trees, 211 from
muddy area with grass, 310 from slowly flowing canal and 325 from trees in the terrestrial
habitat were recorded. The highest number (07) and maximum area (50 m2) of garbage
dumping sites were recorded from the habitat of bog area with trees. Of the 30 feeding
observations that were recorded in this study, 28 feedings sightings observed were on
garbage. Other two feedings were a domestic cat and a carcass of a monkey. There were
threats to the domestic animals such as cats and dogs.
V. salvator is an indicator species of pollution because they are scavengers in the food chain.
Higher abundance of V. salvator could be a threat of other amphibians, reptiles and birds
because of their destructive and predatory behaviour.
Keywords: Bellanwila-Attidiya Sanctuary, Water monitor (Varanus salvator), Garbage,
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Proceedings of International Forestry and Environment Symposium, Sri Lanka. Published by Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura