I was over Lumpini way yesterday with several hours to myself so I did one of my favourite things: I went monitor lizard hunting in Lumpini Park. I love these creatures. They're so unlike anything I've ever encountered anywhere else. (Thank heavens; can you imagine the hysteria if these climbed out of the Serpentine one day?) My normal practice is to tear around the park, wondering why there aren’t any lizards to be seen and it’s only as I slow down and accept Thai time that they become visible. I think there might be a life lesson there.
I was sketching a tree (badly) when this little baby – about fifty centimetres long - appeared. He was beautifully marked. His yellow spots - which looked as though he'd been assembled from beads - make him, according to my book, a simple Water Monitor Lizard.
He seemed oblivious to me, a metre or two away. He moved about flicking his tongue and exploring and then, after playing for a bit in a puddle of water, he took off around the edge of the lake.
I watched him for a long time and then I decided to go in search of another; greedily I wanted a bigger one. On the opposite side of the lake I’d seen a group of adults doing T’ai Chi. As I approached them I saw a piece of tree that looked a lot like a monitor lizard’s head but I decided it couldn’t be because it was so close to the T’ai Chi practice.
Then it moved.
This chap was about two metres nose to tail tip. According to my reference book I'd swear it was a Bengal Monitor Lizard but these aren't documented (in the book) as living in Thailand though they do live as our near neighbours in Burma and I'm not sure they have much respect for the border control. So the next best (and a bit unsatisfactory) ID would be the South East Asian Monitor Lizard, famous for their scavenging – hence the T’ai Chi people. Maybe it is then.