Hardwicke’s spiny-tailed lizard after monsoon

Hardwicke’s spiny-tailed lizard in fresh green grassland habitat immediately after the monsoon. Chhapar, Rajasthan, India.

Tal Chhapar Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Northwestern Rajasthan on the fringe of the Great Indian Desert; The Thar. This small grassland habitat is surrounded by sparse scrub and dry dusty plains peppered with salt pans. Originally a hunting ground for the Maharaja of Bikaner it was declared a sanctuary in the 1960s.

India’s Grasslands are home to some of its most endangered species, many of which are endemic. This important habitat now only exists in a handful of places in India and is sadly becoming increasingly scarce.

This stunning grassland wasn’t always the paradise seen today. After decades of neglect and encroachment by the nearby salt production the sanctuary was in a sorry state. Thanks to efforts coordinated by Mr. S.S.Poonia, the range forest officer at Tal Chhapar, over the years the grassland has been transformed. After gradually stripping away the invasive plant; Prosopis juliflora a variety of grasses were planted such as Mothiya grass, a favourite of the blackbucks, which derives its name from ‘moti’ meaning pearl, as its sweet seeds look like pearls. The final result is vast swathes of pristine grassland bustling with animal life. 

About the Hardwicke’s spiny-tailed lizard

The Hardwicke’s spiny-tailed lizard (Saara hardwickii), otherwise known as the Indian spiny-tailed lizard is a species of lizard in the family Agamidae. These distinctive lizards are found in the Thar desert, Kutchh and surrounding arid areas of India and Pakistan. Spiny-tailed lizards favour hard ground over desert sand dunes as it is more suitable for digging their long zigzagging burrows. In some areas they can be seen in large colonies, which attracts many predators such as raptors and predatory mammals. It is also sometimes hunted by local people as the fat is believed to be an aphrodisiac.

You can find out more about spiny-tailed lizards here.


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Hardwicke's spiny-tailed lizard in fresh green grassland habitat immediately after the monsoon. Chhapar, Rajasthan, India.


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