Saturday, October 31, 2009

do they reduce their number?

i have sometimes wondered how they keep the number of wandering monitor lizards at the sungei buloh wetland reserve under control. in one of many walks at the reserve, i thought i stumbled upon the answer. i had accidentally wandered off the beaten track when i came across many metal cages set up to catch these enormous lizards.

the diet of monitor lizards includes carrion - dead and rotting meat. to trap these monster lizards, they leave parts of a dead chicken hanging from a hook in these huge rectangular cages. one trap was so huge, it could be used to trap adult crocodiles. the trap works like a rat trap. when the monitor lizard gets into the cage and tugs at the piece of chicken, it will dislodge a rod, which in turn will cause the mouth of the trap to snap shut.

i had wandered off the designated track when i came upon more than 10 of these cages or traps, of varying sizes, laid out over a one kilometre stretch. some still had the bait hanging in the cages but some did not have any thing inside - no bait and no captured animal. in fact, i did not come across any trapped animal.

from what i have gathered, this is part of a research programme held in collaboration with the national institute of education (nie). when the reptile was captured, they would first syringe some blood from it. the lizard would be put to sleep with a lethal injection. in the laboratory, they would dissect the big lizard to study the content in its gut.

on the topic of catching monitor lizards, my friend nah once told me that the foreign workers, especially the thais, used a simple loop to trap the monitor lizards that lived on the banks of the kallang river. they would set up the trap overnight and collect their booty the next morning. the thai workers did not catch the monitor lizards to keep as pets. i have been told that the meat of the lizard tastes better than chicken's meat.

another friend of mine, who served as a camp instructor on pulau tekong some 30 years ago, claimed that the taste was akin to that of chicken meat. one of the islanders would trap the lizard and cook it himself. he added some herbs were used to get rid of the fishy taste.

a former student of mine told me that commandos in the army were trained to capture and have the meat of the monitor lizard as part of their jungle survival diet.


Keith said...

During my days in the army, we were trained to eat snake and drink their blood. Yaks ! Snake meat certainly tastes like sh@t. I'm quite sure you're right that monitor lizards taste better because I have tasted some lizard-like creatures in Guangdong. And they indeed taste like chickens.

peter said...

i tried in thailand deep fried lizard skin. very crispy like dried cuttle jill-her. in thailand especially in the poorer korat plateau areas, lizad is poor man's dish but in BKK sold like exotic dish.

yg said...

keith & peter, when it comes to food, i am not the adventurous type. the most 'exotic' food i have tried is frog leg. however, in the form of herbal medicine, i have taken cockcroaches which were added to some contoction for treating cough. that was half a century ago.

nah said...

If crocodile meat is a delicacy, what difference is there with monitor lizard meat? These four- legged snakes are also found in Chinese wine. Apparently, some men believe that consuming such four-legged things like lizards, and even frog legs, will acquire endless virility and make them a ‘real man’.