Species Population Monitoring
The core to SARCA’s activities has been the development of scientific methodologies and long-term data trends to evaluate wild reptile population health in the context of sustained wild harvesting for trade.
As part of this work program SARCA has:
Published a seminal snake population monitoring guidance, ‘Harvest monitoring of snakes in trade: A guide for wildlife managers'. The guidance was released at the CITES Conference of Parties (CoP18) in Geneva, Switzerland. The guide, published in English, Bahasa Indonesia, and Malay, follows 10 years of methodology research and in-field testing, and peer review from leading scientists, wildlife management experts, and government scientific authorities. It sets out practical step-by-step guidance for wildlife managers, conservationists, professional scientists, and wider stakeholders to carry out harvest monitoring of snakes
In partnership with the wildlife management authorities in Indonesia and Malaysia, SARCA has recruited and trained a network of monitoring stakeholders to build annual population trends, inform offtake quotas, and ensure the ongoing sustainability of wild populations. Over 26 scientists carry out data collection and monitoring through the University of Terengganu Malaysia (UTM) and PERHILITAN, the Wildlife Department and CITES Scientific Authority of Malaysia, as well as the SARCA Indonesia Steering Committee (SISC), part of the Indonesian Herpetological Association (PHI) and run by scientists within the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI; CITES Scientific Authority).
SARCA funds annual monitoring of wild reptile populations. Monitoring sites include locations throughout Peninsular (West) Malaysia, and the Indonesian islands of Java, Kalimantan, and Sumatra. In some locations, data have been collected every month, while in others the monitoring takes place annually dependent on the needs of species, systems, and research objectives.
Ongoing monitoring of pythons, water monitors, and water snakes has shown that wild populations remain healthy and abundant.
Biological data gathered through research programs on reptile species has helped to inform the creation of laws limiting the size of snakes that can be captured for trade, to provide greater confidence in harvest sustainability. For example, in both Indonesia and Malaysia a legal size limit of 240 cm is imposed on harvests of reticulated pythons.