Stop the Hunting of Wildlife in India

by Wildlife Trust of India
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Stop the Hunting of Wildlife in India
Stop the Hunting of Wildlife in India
Stop the Hunting of Wildlife in India
Stop the Hunting of Wildlife in India
Stop the Hunting of Wildlife in India

Project Report | May 2, 2018
Addressing hunting of Indian Spiny tailed Lizards

By Debobroto Sircar | Asst. Manager-Wild Aid

Indian Spiny Tail Lizard
Indian Spiny Tail Lizard

The mighty Thar Desert, Rajasthan, in the North western part of India covers a vast expanse of area, which hosts diversified habitat and ecosystems sustaining diverse and ‘hardy’ wildlife species. Amongst the Protected Areas (PA) in this region, Tal Chhapar sanctuary is located in the Churu district. Initially managed as a private hunting reserve of the Maharaja of Bikaner, the sanctuary came into existence in 1962. Named after a small village named Chappar, and a distinct flat saline terrain locally referred as "Tal", the sanctuary is a strong holds for an array of wildlife ranging from BlackBuck- India’s fastest and most graceful antelope , Desert fox, Desert Cat, Chinkara and endangered Indian Wolf. Also called as “Raptor Paradise” it is the breeding home for migratory birds like Laggar falcons, Harriers, Buzzards and Eagles. The sanctuary and its surrounding also boasts to harbor good populations of the highly endangered Spiny Tailed Lizard (S. Hardwickii), the only herbivorous lizard species in India.

Spiny Tailed Lizard, locally called as “Sanda” have a characteristic fat tail with distinctive tail whorls of spiny scales which give the lizard its name. Being cold-blooded, they hibernate through winter before which they prepare by feeding more and fattening their tail, which enables it to survive the long winter months. Sadly this beautiful unique reptile is largely hunted by locals for their characteristic fat tail in the belief that the oil extracted from it is an aphrodisiac/ contains medicinal value. It is also traded illegally in domestic and international markets because of this reason. Many traditional myths are also prevalent in the region, which makes the locals kill the species upon sighting.

To ensure protection of this species from the verge of local extinction, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) with the benevolent support of GlobalGiving has taken steps to reduce hunting in one of the major breeding grounds outside Tal Chappar. In the month of February, after winters once the lizards emerge out of their burrows to feed and breed a baseline survey was undertaken to know the hunting strategy and local attitude towards the species. Locals from all age group were observed to engage in attempting to hunt the species. Thus, it was extremely important to sensitize the entire target group about the species and encourage them to slowly reduce hunting. Many consultative meetings were carried out with the locals residing in close proximity to the site. An emphasis was made to make children aware of nature and the wildlife diversity around their home especially focusing on Spiny Tailed Lizard. Awareness programmes were conducted in five neighbourhood schools for students of Middle and High school. Zahurdeen Maniyar, Principal of Anuvrt Bal Bharti School Chappar speaking in reference to our activities said, “We wish to conduct more such awareness activities for all students in the upcoming year as it is important for the future generations know the importance of such lesser known species and feel the pride of having them found only in their birthplace”.

Apart from hunting, a major threat to the species was found to be road kills, on the village roads. As per data collected, till date 28 road kills were recorded. To address this new threat, the team met with the village heads and concerned government officials and highlighted the issue. Several steps were proposed which the stakeholders welcomed. Mr. Mahaveer Prasad Khatik, President of Muncipality, Chappar exclaimed,” We will be more than happy to adopt alternate roads suggested by WTI that are away from the breeding ground to reduce road kills”. Regular meetings were also held with the landowners of these private lands to involve them in installing signages, spreading awareness about the species and prevent any further road hits.

Such initiation from the local people is a positive sign for us, in our conservation efforts to protect the lesser known yet vital species. We hope to continue this work, through your continued support.

Awareness Programme in local school
Awareness Programme in local school
Awareness Signage Board
Awareness Signage Board
Indian Spiny Tail Lizard close up
Indian Spiny Tail Lizard close up
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Organization Information

Wildlife Trust of India

Location: Noida, Uttar Pradesh - India
Project Leader:
Samruddhi Kothari
Assistant Manager
Noida , Uttar Pradesh India

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