Spiny-tailed Lizard Poaching, Desert National Park

Devendra Bhardwaj

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Spiny-tailed lizards are a significant prey base for raptors and mammalian predators of the arid desert landscape unique to NW India. Indiscriminate killing of these for trade could seriously impact the complex web of life.

38 half-dead Spiny-tailed lizards were seized from three poachers near Beermadera village in Pokhran subdivision of Jaisalmer district. The forest department received information of a poaching gang catching Spiny-tailed lizards from their burrows. The department team immediately reached the spot and caught the three poachers and recovered the lizards, which had their spines broken and were packed tightly in bags.

Department officials state that the poachers cook and eat these lizards (considered a delicacy) after extracting oil (by burning their tails). The oil is sold as an ‘aphrodisiac’.

Spiny-tailed lizards are a significant prey base for raptors and mammalian predators of the arid desert landscape unique to NW India. Indiscriminate killing of these for trade could seriously impact the complex web of life.

India has just one species of this lizard Uromastyx hardwickii. Locally known as the sanda, it is hunted in large numbers for its meat and oil obtained from the fat (sanda ka tel). This species shelters in burrows that each lizard excavates for itself, and the burrows are usually found clustered together. It is uniquely herbivorous but little is known about this lizard.

Conservation India wishes to thank Mr. Devendra Bhardwaj, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Jaisalmer for the information. Read the report of the incident in the media.



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