Even with their large size, and one spending quite some time in their territories, it is somewhat difficult to find a Giant Anole during the day in the Dominican Republic. The most widespread and common species (at least in the Dominican side) is A. baleatus, which is not an unusual sighting at the mesic riparian forest of “Gran Cañada” in the botanical garden of Santo Domingo. But even there, observations are limited by spotting an animal right after it moves to hide away from view (squirreling or slowly sliding around tree trunks). The population in this particular locality seems to be stable and not pursued by people, whom locally have the misbelief that they are aggressive and harmful to humans.
Regarding a local species, A. barahonae, possibly the first encounter I had with this species was back in 2003, in the hills above Enriquillo, southwest of Barahona, where through binoculars, I saw at the distance and high in a large tree a White-necked Crow (Corvus leucognaphalus) holding a large, strong, greenish anoline lizard it its beak. Although I couldn’t see many details of the lizard, I think it must have been A. barahonae because it is the only Giant anole known from that locality. The White-necked Crow forages mainly in flocks and in the canopy, so I suppose that they represent a common predator to that anole species.
After that encounter, I have seen just a few more to date: one basking in a large tree in a shade coffee plantation, also in an epiphyte-packed tree in a cloud forest. This time (yesterday), a fellow local biologist and I were exploring some rivers in the Nizaito watershed, also south west of Barahona. Specificly at a tributary stream that pours into Río Paraiso, while taking photos to a basking Ameiva taeniura aside the road, about 11:00 a.m., I heard some noise coming from a nearby cluster of rather young Cecropia trees. Then my attention was caught by a glimpse of the wing beats of a sphinx moth, soon realizing that it already was in the mouth of a Baoruco Giant Anole. The anole kept still while holding its prey, with tail hanging outwards off the leaf where it was perched.
Unfortunately, I didn’t see the action before the attack happened, but as seen in the pictures, the dead leaf of the Cecropia was probably the perch that the moth used for roosting throughout the day. As most moths are nocturnal in habits, it is likely that it was inmobile siting there just relying in its cryptic coloration and pattern. In an earlier post: A. cuvieri On The Prowl, some excellent photographs by fellow naturalist Father Sanchez showed a Puerto Rican Giant Anole (Anolis cuvieri) deliberately moving about at moderate heights and using several kind of perches. I often imagine that all these anoles would take their prey mostly up in the canopy or high in the tree trunk, but these photographs of the A. barahonae eating this moth were taken at a height of 3 meters, atop of a small tree (Piperaceae) almost overlapping with a taller (8 m) Cecropia tree. Previous to when I heard the sounds coming from the attack, I didn’t notice any motion in the area as I was pretty close. The anole may have been stalking or more likely foraging and scanning this (unusual?) substrate in search of random prey.