The Thar Desert …

Siana is located on the fringes of the Thar desert in the Indian state of Rajasthan. The desert sweeps from the Rann of Kutch, Gujerat, east and north through Rajasthan and across the border with Pakistan into Sindh and Punjab. Rainfall ranges from about 10 cm or less in the west to about 50 cm in the east and varies widely from year to year. The ground water is deep and usually salty.

The great advantage of this region for the wildlife watching tourist is that it is not a national park. This makes it possible to get out and about at night to see nocturnal mammals. Over the course of two nights we caught up with the Indian Gazelle or Chinkara, Desert Cat, Desert Fox, Indian Fox, Palm Civet, Striped Hyena and Indian Hare. A couple of night birds were also encountered, Indian Eagle Owl and Indian Nightjar. Leopard are present but we were not lucky enough to see one here.

The Desert Jird is also present and with patience and a little luck you can get to see it. It is active late afternoon and early morning and lives in communal burrows in firm sand. I suspect that quite a lot of time can be wasted gazing in eager anticipation at abandoned burrows but eventually …

Desert Jird.
Desert Jird.

The Indira Ghandi canal has brought a measure of prosperity to parts of Rajasthan. It is 470 km long and enables crops to be grown in irrigated fields. In the vicinity of Siana, though, small scale livestock herding seemed to be the principle agricultural enterprise.



The red turban and white clothing is typical of Rabari men. It is the men that manage the livestock, the women take charge of the household and matters financial and are famous for being strong and shrewd. Traditionally they were nomadic but there is much less scope for this lifestyle in modern India. Most have now settled on the fringes of towns and villages.