‘Go’ did not go away


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I have come across huge lizard, Go i.e. monitor lizard (Varanus bengalensis ) occasionally in most of the forest areas of Madhya Pradesh whether it is Sariska or Ranthambore.. But for the first time I saw this huge animal, clinging to the wall of a century old Sakhya Sagar Dam in Madhav National Park at Shivpuri during my recent visit.


The animal virtually merged with the colours of wall and surrounding. It did not run away but was very very still, assuming we have not seen it, and have stopped to see and photograph something else. The light was good and I could capture some good shots.


Incidentally, in several historical stories of India, the lizard is reported to have been used to scale high walls. Among these stories, one related to Tanaji Malusare, a  military leader in the army of Shivaji (founder of the Maratha Empire of India in 17th century) is famous. At Shivaji’s request, he pledged to recapture the fortress of Kondana near Pune. Tanaji and his troops scaled the fort with the help of domesticated monitor lizards (ghorpad in Marathi), to whom they tied ropes and sent crawling up to the top of the ramparts. Tanaji and his men than climbed the fort in pitch darkness and recaptured the fort.


Monitor Lizard at first look, may look monstrous. But it is harmless to human beings. It does not possess any venom gland or delivery mechanism. It grows up to 1.8m in length. The lizard is largely diurnal, reaching full activity level when the sun is up and their habitat has warmed up. It feed on other animals, including insects, small lizard and small mammals. It is reported to have preference for eggs.


Go’s grip is very very tight because of strong claws. I remember personally seeing a group of four naughty teenagers in a village forest trying to pull a monitor by its tail out of its hole but the grip was so strong that they failed and as soon as they loosened the grip, it disappeared in the hole.



24 Dec 2015


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