Leapin’ Lizards

The first time that I saw a monitor lizard, I thought I was hallucinating. It was about three years ago. I had come out of my room, here at ICiPE and this three foot long lizard scurried across the pathway in front of me. I am used to geckos and small foot-long lizards that sometimes sun on the rocks (or the wall of the latrine) but I was totally unprepared for this huge reptile. They tend to live along the lakeshore, mostly camoflauged in the bush or under a rock. Today I was out taking some photos of birds, as I often do late in the afternoon. I came upon a cat by a pile of garbage. It was crouched watching some weaver birds and waiting for the right moment to strike. I took some photos of the cat and the birds, thinking it was a good photo opportunity. Suddenly through my viewfinder another movement appeared in the grass and the birds flew away. There was a monitor lizard slithering over a mound of grass toward the garbage pile. image But wait. At the garbage there were two, no three more. They are about three feet or more long and they scurry, low to the ground with a side to side motion, their tail waving behind them. When they stop they often flick their six-inch long black forked tongue in and out. I find them creepy. image Two days ago I startled one … No, it startled me … in the grass by the lake. But on this occasion I had enough gradual introduction to be able to control my instict to run away as quickly as possible and got some good photos.

Another uniquely Kenyan nature adventure.

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