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Abstract Aim This goal of this paper is to present an up-to-date, accurate check-list and distribution of the monitor lizards on the African continent. No such list of their distribution has been attempted since Robert F. Mertens' (1942) treatise (Abhandlungen Senckenbergischen Naturforschenden Gesellschaft, 462, 465, 466). Location The localities included herein are all countries on the African continent, and adjacent islands, with a list of Varanus known to Yemen and Saudi Arabian Republics included for clarity. One fossil Varanus rusingensis is included, as it is the first, and only described, fossil African Varanus known. Methods Locality records were reviewed from literature sources, museum voucher specimens, personal comments, field observations and photographic records. Results A summation of 3,268 locality records are included herein from the methods listed, with maps depicting these records. Main conclusions From the locality records listed herein, it is evident that the Nile monitor (V. niloticus) has the widest distribution, and that the Yemen monitor (V. yemenensis) has the most restricted distribution; paradoxically, both features may be indicative of their relic habitation on the African continent.