Culture & Wildlife of Rajasthann
We’ve discussed at length just how vivid the seemingly empty sands of the Thar really are when it comes to life. Despite being touted as barren, the Thar desert is home to around 50 species of reptiles, 140 species of birds and around 40 species of large and small mammals throughout the entire expanse. We have covered some of the species in the past from all taxa. Today we’d like to showcase a few more common species you can find around our desert camp in Jodhpur along with a few other locations you must venture to when on your Jodhpur trip. Along with this, we felt the need to emphasise that the desert is also a location that needs protection, and we talk about a special place to see in Jodhpur that deals with precisely that.
Chinkara is the Marwari and Hindi word for the Indian Gazelle, the most common antelope around the Thar with up to 80,000 individuals. They are revered by the local communities around the region, especially the Bishnois. As such while they are extremely wary of humans, they also can be seen grazing around villages and even in some homes. Chinkara, like most mammals in the desert, have adapted themselves through years of evolution to live without water for prolonged periods making them perfect for these dunes.
The Chinkaara today faces threats of poaching and habitat loss thanks to urban development in the desert which is why we feel it is important to emphasise on its place in the ecosystem as a grazer.
The Thar’s residents include one very special bird. The world’s fastest, as it happens. The Shaheen Falcon is a subspecies of the renowned Peregrine Falcon, the world’s fastest in-flight bird. Out here in the desert they live among what few rock formations exist around our desert camp in Jodhpur and some also exist within the citadel of Jodhpur, nesting in old fort walls.
The Peregrine Falcon is a small,beautiful bird of prey with eyes that can freeze any prey it sets sights on. With one quick dive off a cliff it can reach speeds of up to 300kmph while chasing down a meal. They are monogamous birds and raise clutches of 3 to 4 babies at those towering altitudes.
On a desert safari around our desert camp in Jodhpur, you may be lucky enough to spot a Shaheen circling around the dunes on thermal currents, waiting for the slightest movement in the sand before it performs its miraculous dive.
One might fathom that because there isn’t much wildlife in the desert, it can survive and does not need our help. But only the opposite is true; human interference has cost the desert a lot of its natural growth and populations. Therefore, conserving it is the need of the hour.
An enchanting locale where wildlife is certainly a resident is the Rao Jodha Rock park in Jodhpur. Facilitated in 2006, it was meant to be an answer to the invasive species of shrub and other wildlife that was encroaching in the region. While there may not be much fauna at first sight, the native flora that was planted here by the authorities is certainly worth a visit. The park is also adjacent to a lake that attracts a multitude of wild birds, especially migratory birds during winter. The overall aim of the park was achieved; setting a space for the wild to slowly come back to its roots.
The same can be said for the people of the Thar; the local communities tirelessly ensure that the wildlife and natural habitats of the Thar remain at peace. Do read more about how animals and people of the Thar coexist in our other blog.
Our own desert camp in Jodhpur is an answer to the question of how one can conserve the wild while being a host to tourism in this expanse. Manvar is part of the Manvar Conservancy, an effort started by Moti Singh Rathore after taking inspiration from the Tiger Man Of India, Fateh Singh Rathore.
So how can you contribute to this meaningful tourism? By experiencing it yourself. Join our desert safaris and delight in the company of the chinkaras, as a Shaheen slowly circles around you near our desert camp in Jodhpur. An experience that is bound to captivate you for life.