|Date||15 Dec 2006|
The Spiny–tailed lizard Uromastyx hardwickii is endemic to the arid region which lies between India and Pakistan. This burrow-dwelling, herbivorous lizard is patchily distributed in the north-western parts of India, mainly in and around the Thar Desert of Rajasthan. This species is very poorly understood, with the most detailed natural history note on U. hardwickii being nearly a century old. Moreover, it is known to be heavily exploited locally because the oil from the fat and its meat are believed to have medicinal properties. U. hardwickii is possibly the most threatened herpetofauna of the Great Indian Desert, and while it has been classified as ‘Vulnerable’ in India, it has not been included in the current IUCN Red List due to lack of information.
This project, which will be the first status survey on U. hardwickii, will document the distribution of sizeable populations as well as identify immediate threats to the survival of the species. The results will form the basis on which a long-term conservation programme can be developed and implemented with the involvement of the local communities, Rajasthan State Forest Department and other institutions that have ongoing research or conservation programmes in the area. In addition, this survey will also serve as a precursor to a long-term ecological study on the species.
The Great Indian Desert, which is one of the most densely populated deserts in the world, is in need of significant conservation action and U. hardwickii or ‘Sanda’, as it is locally known, can also be used as a flagship species to enlist local support for future conservation action in the region.
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