World News

Bangkok rids city park of giant lizards

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Wildlife officials fanned out in Bangkok’s famed Lumpini Park on Tuesday to trap and round up large lizards living there that imperil the fish and plant life and can startle unwary visitors.

The water monitor lizards, which can grow up to 2 m (6.5 feet) in length, are famous throughout the Thai capital, often coming face to face with residents and tourists as the reptiles crawl along roads or slither out of the city’s many canals.

Many lizards live in Lumpini Park, an inner-city oasis thronged by joggers, sunning themselves on its pavements or plunging into its pools.

“They don’t hurt people but they do hurt nature, and trample on flowers,” Tuanjai Noochdamrong, director of the Wildlife Conservation Office under the Department of National Parks, told reporters. “Our target is to catch 40 today.”

The lizards will be taken to a wildlife breeding centre in Ratchaburi, around 129 km (80 miles) south of the capital, where they will be well cared for, city authorities have said.

But Michael Cota, a member of the IUCN Monitor Lizard Specialist Group, was not so sure.

“They’re being transferred to what’s called a wildlife breeding centre where they take nuisance animals or animals handed over to the government and they supposedly take care of them there,” said Cota, who is based in Bangkok.

“They don’t have the resources to take care of them and most of them end up dying. “I’m sure after three or four months most of them will be dead.”

Editing by Patrick Johnston and Clarence Fernandez