Brave Wilderness in Australia | Part Two

Mario Aldecoa

Australia, land of the dragons!

On a recent Australia trip, the crew and I were on the search for the continent’s largest lizard species, the 2m long Perentie monitor. The Perentie belongs to the varanid genus which includes several species of predatory lizards that collectively are referred to as monitor lizards, with the most famous member being the Komodo dragon. Characteristics of these cunning predators include excellent eyesight and hearing, a forked tongue to sense the world, and a long streamlined body with robust limbs and longtail.

In order to encounter a Perentie, the crew and I travelled thousands of kilometres to the centre of Australia’s arid outback. Our timing for the trip was meant to coincide with the short but very important rainy season that brings life to the region–however, due to changes in climate patterns, the rain did not arrive and we experienced severe drought conditions. Wildlife sightings were sparse and Perenties were nowhere to be seen. The heat was relentless! Luckily, wearing my Craghoppers gear helped protect me from exposure to the elements and allowed me to focus on the search. For several arduous days, we searched the desolate landscape for signs of Perenties and other wildlife.

As a wildlife biologist, I do extensive research on the species we are searching for in order to become familiar with its behaviour and life history, maximizing our chances of an encounter…but doubt was starting to take a hold of the crew. With our production time coming to an end, will we succeed in finding a Perentie monitor lizard?

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