Central Asian Distribution

Varanus caspius

Caspian monitor

For Information regarding Varanus caspius in the Middle East, please see this page : Varanus caspius 

TAXONOMY: This species was elevated from subspecies level (Varanus griseus caspius) on Morphological and genetic grounds, alongside chorological distribution patterns in parapatric speciation with Varanus griseus and Varanus nesterovi (Böhme et al 2023).


Central Asia. – Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan.

Further distribution.- Iran (see Middle East page)

For a more detailed distribution see (Malakhov & Chirikova 2018)

RED LIST STATUS: Not Evaluated

CITES: Appendix I


Uzbekistan – V.caspius is listed (as V.griseus ) as endangered in the Red Book of Uzbekistan (Nuridzhanov, 2009), meaning they are protected at the legislative level

Kazakhstan. – Conservation of V. caspius is primarily promoted (as Varanus griseus) by the Red Data Book of Kazakhstan (Brushko & Chirikova, 2010), as a species that is declining in numbers (category II). Following decrees and orders of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan are relevant:

  • Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated July 9, 2004 No. 593-II
  • Order of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated January 27, 2004 No. 31
  • Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated June 2, 2012 No. 734
  • Order of the Minister of Environment and Water Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated April 4, 2014 No. 104-Ө.

Pakistan. – All wildlife is protected in Pakistan, for e.g., the Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance, 1972 is relevant; it extends to the whole of the Province of Sindh; nothing hereinafter provided shall be deemed to authorize any person to hunt in the reserved or protected forests or on any person’s private property without permission.

Kyrgyzstan. – Listed as endangered in the Red Book of Kyrgyzstan (Mil’ko and Panfilov, 2006)

Tajikistan. –  Listed as endangered in the Red Book of Tajikistan (Kurbonov & Toshev 2015)


General. – Increase and intensification of agriculture and livestock farming, trade for varying purposes (medicine, decor, food, pets, leather), urbanization.


General. – Assess the impact of the varying threats on local populations; a socio-economic study resulting in awareness programs; reassess the taxonomic status of this species-complex.

Kazakhstan. -regular studies are needed to assess the abundance of the Desert monitor, its distribution and threats. Due to the lack of constant funding, many issues of biology and ecology of the Desert monitor remain not fully understood, and research has been interrupted in some aspects.


Kazakhstan. – 2008 – present – currently, there are no specific projects on the Desert monitor in Kazakhstan. Unfunded private research is being carried out within the framework of work on the dissertation of Yulia A. Zima on the topic “DESERT MONITOR (VARANUS GRISEUS DAUDIN, 1803) IN KAZAKHSTAN: DISTRIBUTION, ECOLOGY, PROTECTION”

References referred to:

  • Böhme, Wolfgang & Ahmed, Soran & Al-Sheikhly, Omar & Ararat, Korsh & Auer, Markus & Khudur, Farhad & Langner, Christian. (2023). DESERT MONITOR LIZARDS (SQUAMATA: VARANIDAE: Varanus: Psammosaurus) FROM THE MIDDLE EAST: FURTHER RECORDS OF NESTEROV’S DESERT MONITOR, Varanus (P.) nesterovi BÖHME, EHRLICH, MILTO, ORLOV ET SCHOLZ, 2015, FROM IRAQ, AND ADJACENT LOCALITIES OF Varanus (P.) g. griseus (DAUDIN, 1803) AND Varanus (P.) g. caspius (EICHWALD, 1831), WITH COMMENTS ON BIOGEOGRAPHY AND TAXONOMY. Russian Journal of Herpetology. Vol. 30. 518 – 528. 10.30906/1026-2296-2023-30-6-518-528.
  • Brushko Z. K. and Chirikova M. A. (2010), “Desert moni- tor,” in: A. M. Meldebekov (ed.), Red Book of Kazakhstan. Edition 4. Vol. 1. Animals. Part 1. Vertebrates, Almaty, Ka- zakhstan, pp. 66 – 67 [in Russian].
  • Malakhov, Dmitry V., and Marina A. Chirikova. “SPECIES DISTRIBUTION MODEL OF Varanus griseus caspius (EICHWALD, 1831) IN CENTRAL ASIA: AN INSIGHT TO THE SPECIES’BIOLOGY.” Russian Journal of Herpetology 25.3 (2018).
  • Mil’ko D. A. and Panfilov A. M. (2006), “Desert monitor,” in: A. A. Davlenkeldiev (ed.), Red Book of Kyrgyz Repub- lic. 2nd Edition, Bishkek, pp. 334 – 335 [in Russian].

  • Nuridzhanov D. A. (2009), “Desert monitor,” in: Zh. A. Azi- mov (ed.), The Red Data Book of the Republic of Uzbeki- stan. Rare and Disappearing Types of Plants and Animals. 3rd edition. Vol.2. Animals, Chinor ENKB, Tashkent, pp. 120 – 121 [in Russian].

  • Kurbonov Sh. and Toshev A. (eds.) (2015), Red Book of Taji- kistan. 2nd Edition, Donish, Dushanbe [in Tajik].

Adult Varanus caspius, Karaktau Mts., Kyzylkum desert, Turkestan region, Kazakhstan, April 2019 © Yulia Zima

Adult Varanus caspius, vicinity of the city of Saryagash, Turkestan region, Kazakhstan, May 2021 © Yulia Zima

Adult Varanus caspius, vicinity of the city of Saryagash, Turkestan region, Kazakhstan, May 2021 © Yulia Zima