From islands and cities, to forests and here in plantations.. ..there is one animal that thrives in them all. The water monitor lizard is one
of the largest lizards in the world. These beasts can grow to 1.5 meters in length. They can eat almost anything and live almost anywhere. In the jungle, plantations, villages, cities, islands.. ..everywhere. Monitor lizards truly are masters of survival. Studying these animals is DGFC’s Dr. Sergio.. ..and today we gonna be laying traps filled with stinky chicken guts all in the name of science. My name is Sergio Gurrero Sanchez. I am from Mexico. I am a veterinarian. I am studying the ecology of monitor lizards as part of my PhD with Cardiff University. My personal interest of the monitor lizards is they look like dragons, I love dragons. When I started to read about them and all travelers came here saying that dragons.. ..lived in south east Asia and it was because of the monitor lizards and komodo dragons. I was like ok, maybe I found the place where dragons lived and I would like to do something with that. They are generalists, they live everywhere, eat everywhere. They are flexible to survive in any kind of environment. They are not restricted to a specific kind of forest or a specific kind of habitat. So in this fragmented landscape.. ..they could be a good model to assess the health of the ecosystem by assessing.. ..the health of the populations of lizards. To set up our traps, we are headed over the river from DGFC to a palm oil plantation. Studying animals in this environment is crucial in understanding.. ..how changing landscapes can affect species. -Sergio, that absolutely stinks. I can almost taste it, it smells so bad. Why is it that monitors lizards they can eat things that are decaying that are going off? They are resistant to many kind of bacteria that are part of the decomposition of the food. They are double hard, Monitor Lizards, they can live anywhere, they eat anything. Yes Pretty resilient animals I can’t say I am too disappointed about leaving this trap now, because it stinks. With traps all over the plantation, Sergio hopes to catch a lizard weighing at least 15 kgs.. ..to satellite tag and help reveal the mysteries of these monitors movements. This is a satellite tag. Once attached to an animal, the scientists can follow its movements over a long period of time. Using an antenna the scientist can find the animal again. The tagging can reveal territory sizes, preferred habitats, feeding habitats and much more. Later that afternoon, we went back to check the traps. Would we get lucky the first day? No. Day 2 and hopefully we gonna
have a little bit more luck today. It looked like luck wasn’t on our side.
All traps empty, again. Is this part of the job then?
Dealing with these disappointments. -Absolutely, Absolutely.
They do not have cell phones to call them again.. .. by “Bait is there, go there”. So nah, we have to wait. We have to be patient. -So how do you keep yourself optimistic? I love working in the forest. And these walks in the forest or plantations, I just enjoy them.. ..see the birds or other animals
that you don’t expect to see. This always keeps me optimistic
but mainly inspired to keep working. With forest on one side of the river
and palm oil on the other.. ..DGFC and its scientists are perfectly positioned to study land-use change. Palm oil is important for the Malaysian economy. Understanding its impact on wildlife
is critical for the future. It is studies like Sergio that can provide crucial data on the effects it has on wildlife.. ..and can make a real difference
in improving future policy. Riding the wave of Sergio’s optimism and determination.. ..we headed out the next day to check the traps in the other habitat of Sergio’s study. With DGFC nestled in the forest, it was on our own front door next to the lake that we finally got our break. -The door is closed. So.. -There is definitely something moving in there. -Yeah, there is something inside. The trap is shaking. -You think it’s definitely a lizard? -Yeah it’s a lizard. Get it! We got a lizard! Nice work Sergio! What was that Sergio? Did it just vomit everywhere? It was the chicken guts. I noticed it vomited everywhere earlier.
Why did they do that? -If they vomit, they are lighter.
They can run faster if they need to run. I need you to stand up with me and the lizard. Higher. -Higher? You gotta be pretty strong. How much? -So it’s 12 kg. At 12 kg, this lizard is not quite big enough for us to tag. -So the next step is to take all the measurements. And then we take the samples. So I just need to take a piece of the skin to tell the sex of the lizard. That’s amazing that you can tell
the sex from a little piece of skin. Sergio, because you’re a vet does that mean you can do everything yourself? -Well I can take samples.
I can monitor the health status of the animal. And I have learned how to catch them, how to tie them. But I cannot do it all by myself.
I always need people behind me. -It’s a team effort then? -Always. Okay, saliva is the last thing. So we are done. You want to help me? -Yeah, absolutely. We need to untie it. With all the tests complete, it’s time to release this lizard back into the wild. After two days of searching, the team have succeeded! The scientists of DGFC provide vital insights into the impact humans are having on the environment. As for Sergio his invaluable research is helping safeguard one of Borneo’s most adaptable animals.