One of the most elusive and intriguing animals in the world, Borneo’s earless monitor has managed to largely avoid human invasion since its initial discovery in 2012. Since then, less than one hundred specimens had been found, until a palm oil company’s survey group, assessing the area and looking at cultural assets in the vicinity published their findings of the mysterious creature and (perhaps) inadvertently invited a world of poachers to descend and decimate the friendly, cartoon dinosaur looking lizards.
These sensitive creatures have been described as the holy grail for herpetologists, known by locals simply as kadal (meaning lizard).
Lanthanotus borneensis (‘hidden ear from Borneo’ named for its lack of external ear openings), has since been involved in breeding programs, The Prague Zoo making headlines in October 2018 for five successful hatchlings. Since then the zoo has maintained its goals to actively participate in the development of a European Breeding Program for this rare species in order to establish a sustainable population in captivity.
One may wonder what has become of the pristine rainforest territory of the unique monitor lizard after its whereabouts were made available to poachers, perhaps it has become available for palm oil farming after all.