The Thar Desert is located in parts of India and Pakistan and is known as the Great Indian Desert. It is bounded by two rivers, a mountain range and a salt marsh. In the winter, temperatures fall below freezing, and in the summer, temperatures can reach to more than 125 degrees Fahrenheit. The Thar has monsoon rains and dust storms. Despite the extremely harsh conditions, the desert is home to many types of wildlife, some of which are disappearing in other parts of the region. The animals of the Thar must often survive the extreme temperatures with little or no water and without vegetation.
Great Indian Bustard
There are 23 species of bustard birds, and of these, the great Indian bustard is the most endangered. A large ground-dwelling bird, standing about 3.5 feet tall and weighing up to 30 pounds, the bustard has a long neck and long legs. It primarily eats grass, insects, rats and seeds.
The blackbuck is an antelope that inhabits parts of the Thar Desert. About 3 feet long, the blackbuck is only about 2 feet high and weighs about 55 pounds. Brown in color, the blackbuck has a white circle around its eye. The male's horns are twisted spirals and grow up to 29 inches long. The blackbuck lives in herds that range from five to 50 animals.
The Indian gazelle, also known as chinkara, is also known to inhabit the Thar Desert. The gazelle is just over 2 feet high and weighs about 50 pounds. The chinkara has a buff-colored coat with dark stripes from the corner of its eye to the muzzle. The horns can reach to more than a foot long. The chinkara avoids areas where humans live and can go for long periods without water. The Indian gazelle takes in fluids from plants and dew.
Indian Wild Ass
The Indian wild ass, known as onager, is a little larger than a donkey, weighing about 640 pounds and growing almost 7 feet long. The onager, known to live in parts of the Thar Desert, is reddish-brown turning to a yellow-brown in the winter. The onager has a black stripe that extends down its back.
Among the wildlife found in the Thar Desert are the desert fox and Bengal fox. The desert fox, also known as the fennec fox, is 14 to 16 inches long and weighs only about 3 pounds. The fennec fox is red and has a bushy tail up to 7 inches long. The Bengal fox, also known as the Indian fox, is 18 to 24 inches long and weighs 5 to 9 pounds. The Bengal fox's coat ranges from gray to brown and its tail is up to 14 inches long.
A small feline found in the Thar Desert, the Asiatic Desert Cat weighs about 7 pounds. Its color ranges from gray to red, and its coat has small black spots on it. The coat may also be striped. The desert cat avoids areas near human settlements and is predator to rodents, rabbits and lizards.
Many types of eagles--including the short-toed, tawny and spotted eagles--can be found in the Thar Desert. Along with these are many species of harriers, falcons, buzzards, kestrels and vultures.
About the Author
Bethney Foster is social justice coordinator for Mercy Junction ministry, where she edits the monthly publication "Holy Heretic." She is also an adoption coordinator with a pet rescue agency. Foster spent nearly two decades as a newspaper reporter/editor. She graduated from Campbellsville University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English, journalism and political science.