Mountains, Nature

on prancing poikilotherms…

Kashmir Rock Agama (Laudakia tuberculata), Gangotri, Uttarakhand, India

The lizard that jumped from a high Iroko tree to the ground said he would praise himself if no-one else did…

Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

the reptilian world has generally been designated to embody negative traits in the constructs of human imagination for as long as one can comprehend, from the sacred annals of religion to the revolutionising creativity of Renaissance polymaths… the serpentine occupies the epoch in this regard, followed closely by the rest of its brethren…

the house lizard or gecko is stereotyped this canvas of perception… it cannot slither suavely like an ophidian, neither does it posses the ambiguous dexterity and tranquil ferocity of the Crocodilia… with such high expectations, it kind of looks shoddy zig zagging sheepishly across the walls and roofs, clearing out the flies as a positive recourse however… 

Kashmir Rock Agama (Laudakia tuberculata), Gangotri, Uttarakhand, India
A jittery juvenile…  

wild lizards are another matter though… while the seeming lameness of movement remains, the colours and camouflages turn brilliant, the ferocity is much more pronounced, and the habitats are spookier to say the least… the last one is a tropical imagery however… in higher climes, the dominant nature of the reptile turns into that of an opportunist, for the elements are more savage than the fauna, and the prey base as thin as the air… 

the Agama genus comprises of small to medium lizards characterised by scaly, coarse bodies and a vivid tapestry of colours… a majority of the species inhabit Africa, but about a dozen inhabit Eurasia, collectively termed as the Asian rock agamas… their gregariousness depends upon the amount of sunlight they’ve had, and can range from a steadfast bask upon an afternoon rock to flitting upon like loose embers of a windy campfire…

Kashmir Rock Agama (Laudakia tuberculata), Gangotri, Uttarakhand, India
Adult male… the blue or azure shade of the legs starts fading as the breeding season draws to a close…

we were maundering on the trail to Tapovan from Gangotri when the rustle across the leaves became all to frequent… it seemed like a progression of lizards was on its way to the holy snout… closer inspection revealed it to be Kashmir Rock Agamas, a majority of the males displaying a fading shade of azure… maybe the breeding season was drawing to a close, what must have been one hectic period of activity with the rains carrying deep into September… the juveniles were too paranoid as expected, but the adults were less jittery, stoutly defending their right to the warmth of the afternoon…  

there is a mutually agreed upon decree of discomfort twixt reptiles and humans… maybe an inferiority complex of the latter from being a relatively newer entrant in the evolutionary cycle, and yet being unable to match the dexterity of movement… but nothing fazes the saurian as it relishes the sun in its old-school, cold-blooded demeanour…

Kashmir Rock Agama (Laudakia tuberculata), Gangotri, Uttarakhand, India
The adults are quite gregarious, or rather sluggish until they’ve drank enough sunlight…

musings on an agama (Laudakia tuberculata), Gangotri, Uttarakhand…

Author: Parth Joshi

Allured by the outdoors, the author is made up in parts of that quintessential lost soul wreathing under the pangs of biophilia in a desk job, a wannabe elegist mostly ending up in dungeons of poetasters and an optimist waiting for the senility of the modern world to fade away while sampling shoots and leaves. In saner times, he has a keen interest in areas pertaining to tourism, history, agriculture and climate change, especially with respect to historical interpretations, emerging technologies and future livelihoods. An avid trekker, runner, cyclist, birder and photographer, he is more often than not found gloating over anything hinterland, on foot or over computer monitors, and fantasizing solutions that can foster inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods for communities at the grassroots.

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