Sunday, August 19, 2007

BUTAAN: The Lost Dragons of the Philippines

The Butaan *read as /'boo-tah-an'/* was first described to science in 1845 from a small preserved specimen and a skull collected by an American biologist and was only labeled “Philippines”. It was later renamed “Varanus grayi” and for almost 150 years, no other specimen was found.

Assumed to be extinct, it was only rediscovered in the 1970s, when scientists found a specimen in the collection of Walter Auffenberg in the American Museum of Natural History. This triggered numerous trips by American scientists to the Philippines in search for this lost specie. They later corrected the name to “Varanus olivaceus”.

The Butaans live up the trees and exclusively feed on fruits, almost exclusively on Panadanas palm tree. *so, unless you look like a plump fruit, no need to worry*. Since these lizards are virtually unknown, a further study by the great biologist Daniel Bennet is on progress. (Check your Animal Planet program schedule).

This specie of monitor lizard may not be as large as the Komodos but they are the world’s largest fruit eating monitor lizards *so we’re safe here, no need to run*. Wait!…it is said that it grow as long as 7 feet! *whadda?! I don't know about you but I’m still gonna run!* They are currently identified to exist only on one small island “Pollilio” off the Pacific coast of the Philippines.

Only 1 sq. mi. is left of their habitat and with the rate we are destroying our environment, time is running out for them.

How can a creature as big as this evade modern science? All scientists agreed on one thing – the Butaans are tremendously and extremely shy creatures. This uncanny ability to elude us is enough reason to preserve this specie.

The Lost Dragons of the Philippines. Pride of Southeast Asia.

***Though the Komodo Dragon preservation gets a lot of funding, the Butaan is still struggling to find support for their protection. Here's how you can help.
OR if you have a can feature them to create awareness and maybe, just maybe, we can make a difference and protect the Butaans.


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conan_cat said...

ooo, never knew about this species of lizard! :D and thanks for the info, so many of our friends are going extinct and we're still turning a blind eye... sad isn't it? 1sq mile is very, very small... i wonder how many of them are still there...

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

Thanks Conan and it's good to see that your blog is doing it's share for animal welfare. Only a few blogs do that.

Have you seen ???
It's very interesting.

Anonymous said...

nah thanks for d info, actually i haven't heard of it before...
what about tarsier? can you feature them...
muahh to you and to sofia
keep on blogging heheh

chase / chubz said...

never heard of this dragon being in polillo island here in the PH.
so naive..

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this info Pisanu! I remenber seeing a preview about this lizard in Animal Planet before but never really got to watch the episode. Anyway, I want to help by giving a donation but the link seems outdated, Is it? Just want to make sure the donations will reach them. - Frostfire

Anonymous said...

Looks like a nice creation. Such a shame but honestly, this is the first time I heard of it. Looks nice. Oh no, I changed my mind. I'll run with u, Pisanu. It's scaring me like a snake.

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

Hi guys! As our friend Nam used to say:"It takes a foreigner to notice what we really have."

I've heard of this Butaan long before in my Cryptozoology class in Madrid. But I'm not adventurous enough to hunt it down.

There is one reptile breeder in the Philippines who successful bred this specie. He got the first ever Butaan bred in captivity. He must fetch millions for it. But he said he won't sell.

Don't you tnik it's ironic that our "lost" species are always discovered by foreigners? It say a lot about how we really care about our country. Think about it.

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

@ Frostfire...yeah, the site is bit outdated but it's better this way, it means they are in the field really working for the Butaans.

I made a small donation and I got a confirmation so I'm just waiting for their email. I'll let you know when I get it.

I guess the best way for us to help [if we have a blog] is to create I did. A lot of Filipinos don't know Butaans exist and I guess I made at least 30 people know they do and needs help. :-)

Unknown said...

Whoa! Thanks for featuring this. But I'll bet there are a lot of undiscovered species in the Philippines - which is identified as one of the world's biologically richest countries and also one of the most endangered areas according Conservation International's - Biodiversity Hotspots (

In Southeast Asia, the other area which is considered as a hotspot is the Indo-Burma region- an area that straddles parts of East India, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and parts of Southern China.

The Philippine seas was also considered as the Center of the Center of the World's Ocean having the most diverse and the most number of undersea creature which is the equivalent of the Amazon rainforest for its uniqueness and species density.

I hope we can just preserve them as this is not only a pride of the Philippines and Southeast Asia but of the World. If only we can stop those Chinese poachers...

Anonymous said...

Well I'll be damned! I ain't ever heard of this here critter before! Sheesh.

Thanks for the post Pisanu, its awesome. I thought I was widely-read... well actually I still do, heheh. But I do admit I didn't know these creatures even existed!

Reading your blog, I just hope our Environment Minister pays as much attention to this creature as you guys do!

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

@ Carlos...that makes you the 31st! Awareness is what i really wanted to create here on this blog. People are simply not fully informed considering most of us are connected to the internet.

@ Ryan...there is another specie only found in the Philippines which I WOULD BET MY EXPENSIVE ASS, no Filipino have heard of.

Well, I cannot say it yet. But soon! (I donated for their expedition).

Anonymous said...

yup, i think i watched this beauty of a dragon featured in animal planet! :)

mampam said...

Wow, thanks for featuring the butaan on your blog! I'm Daniel, the only member of the Butaan Team with access to the internet. Apologies for our website, I don't get much time to update it, but thanks again for your interest and concern!

Anonymous said...

i saw lizards exactly like that when i was a kid! they were tied up and loaded on a tricycle (a mode of transportation in the philippines) and i bet they're gonna be chopped up and cooked as "pulutan" (finger food during drinking sessions)

such a pity.

then again, there was one time i saw a big one at a creek in our village at lucena city in quezon province. it was really big like around 10 feet long, i guess.

Anonymous said...

The situation would be a lot better for the wildlife in the Philippines if the people were not so poor, with 60% being on the poverty line. These lizards get eaten as soon as they are seen, as do snakes, frogs, and many other species. Foreign aid will go the same place as the local tax,VAT,etc into the pockets of the politicians, mayors,barangay captains,local council representatives

Anonymous said...

Members of the Herpetological Society of the Philippines participated in the research and one of which was also featured in the film.

Anonymous said...

know i know that im not alone,
i want to be a herpetologist someday but this couse is not availabe in the philippines<<<
so i took DVM,,,,
cause i want to study our Varanus olivaceus, in order to save them,,,
so as a student im trying to tell my neighbors and my classmates about their importance....
bec. our gov. is just ignoring it!!!!

is this enough to save them!!!!
what can i do to save them????

sick_sad_world said...

Hahaha, very cute lizards, I've seen them on film, just want to point out that althought Butaan is endemic to the Philippines, its also available in Camaroan (Bicol Region), so there are two places where Butaan lives, in Polilio (Quezon Province) and as mentioned above, Camaroan (Bicol Region).

flitz said...

i saw this on the news lately.. I hope i could do something to protect them and all the living creatures. Till now i dunno where to start. i have no isea how can i do that..

Pandong said...

hi name is Pandong.ive read your articles for the first time today friday the 13th of jan2012 at around 1pm and i havent left the computer since then(well i left just to eat and pee lol).its now 3:33am of jan 14 and i have a flight tomorrow i mean later for the Sinulog festivals of Cebu.good luck to me haahaha
first of all i would like to thank you for your love of our country, the Philippines.correct me if im wrong but you do not have a filipino blood, half Thai, half Danish i believe?
secondly and most importantly the reasn why i wrte this comment is to ask permission to post this on my facebook account to spread awareness regarding the varanus bitatawa and varanus a non practicing biology graduate and an environmentalist by heart.i want to do my share in simple ways to help this lizards.
thank you very much.


Pisanu for BISEAN said...

Sure Pandong! And welcome to the blog. Yes, we are a big fan of your country. Good or bad. Love or hate.

Sinulog in Cebu. I think we havent featured that yet.

Please od spread the word about the Philippine dragon =)

Take care dude.

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