There’s nothing blue about this retirement village apart from these exceptional lizards

Fairy tales of princesses, majestic castles and fire-breathing dragons are the essence of every little girls dream, but this was most certainly not the case with me. From a tender age I was spellbound by the natural world and all the magnificent creatures and critters that were part of it. I would often find myself exploring the great outdoors, wanting to find out as much as I possibly could about this unique planet we live on. As I became older, I began to realise that our dear mother earth and all that were a part of her, was under great threat and something needed to be done before it was too late. I wanted to make a difference and more importantly make people aware of how crucial it is that we conserve our natural world. As a result, I developed an unwavering passion towards the sciences, particularly conservation biology and herpetology.

A negative light it too often shone on reptiles as people lack the basic knowledge about them and are easily enticed by superstitious beliefs, myths and legends that surround them. As a result, their perceptions towards them also become negative. I have been fortunate enough to work under Prof. C.T. Downs and C. Price for my honours project, where I looked at the urban ecology of the tree agama. One of the highlights of my project was discovering the positive and heart-warming attitude that the residents of Azalea Gardens Retirement Village have towards the population of blue-headed lizards (Acanthocercus a. atricollis) that reside in the area. The population is flourishing because they are urban exploiters and make use of available opportunities and resources. The positive attitude that surrounds them in this particular regard has most definitely contributed to their success and ability to thrive beyond measure. It is my goal to one day spread such a positive attitude about all reptiles on a larger scale so that conservation efforts will be easier.

Female agama laying eggs at a nest (A); Eggs after the baby agamas have hatched (B); baby agama (C); juvenile agama (D). Credit: Nikisha Singh.
Male tree agama shading behind some vegetation. Credit: Nikisha Singh.
Male tree agama. Credit: Nikisha Singh.
Female tree agama basking on wall. Credit: Nikisha Singh.
About Nikisha Singh 1 Article
My name is Nikisha Singh. I am currently a first year Masters (Biological Sciences) student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg. I am focusing on urban ecology and conservation biology with reptiles in particular.

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