Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) are the most obvious inhabitants of Don Chao Poo Forest in Phana, but they are not the only ones. Two other species which generally make themselves scarce when people are around, can be seen by someone who is patient and quiet and does not move around too much. You also have to know where they are likely to be seen and at what time of day. One of these species is considered a delicacy by local people and fetches quite a good price in the market, and although the original intention some fifty years ago was that Don Chao Poo should be an animal sanctuary, they are not considered ‘children of Chao Poo’ and so are likely to be ‘harvested’.
I am pretty sure that there are at least two pairs of Bengal monitor lizard (Varanus bengalensis) in the forest and one appears to be pregnant. This is the first sighting I had of one, a few months ago:
Since then I have seen one or other of them on the ground on several occasions:
and climbing trees. This species has been described as “an adept tree climber and thus a formidable enemy to nesting birds and squirrels” (Mark Graham & Philip Round, Thailand’s Vanishing Flora and Fauna, Finance One Public Company Ltd, 1994):
The specimen shown above and below has the appearance of being pregnant, and I have not seen her now for several days, so I am now on the look out for evidence that she has given birth. I don’t suppose that the offspring will be visible for some time but there may be evidence from changes in the pair’s routine.
Fortunately she seems to have an affectionate and attentive partner:
The other species I have been aware of for much longer but until recently have not been able to get near enough to take reasonable photos. Even now, this is as near as I have been to them:
There seem to be two groups of about the same number in each (8-10) living about 150 m apart. Enlarged photos indicate that they are Indochinese ground-squirrel (Menetes berdmorei):
Another great post Lawrence. I can see you having your own nature TV program of “Phana Watch” coming soon.
Hi, Ash. I’m planning on putting some of my video footage (of forest residents) on youtube. I’ll let you know when I do.