“I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…” (A. St Exupéry,The little Prince).
The Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, is a large, arid region in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent that forms a natural boundary between India and Pakistan. It is the world’s 9th largest subtropical desert.
About 85% of the Thar Desert is in India, and the remaining part in Pakistan. In India, it covers about 120,000 sq mi, of which 60% is in Rajasthan and extends into Gujarat, Punjab, and Haryana.This desert comprises a very dry part, the Marusthali region in the west, and a semidesert region in the east with fewer sand dunes and slightly more precipitation.
Population: The Thar Desert is the most densely populated desert in the world. In India, the inhabitants comprise Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs. In Pakistan, inhabitants include Sindhis and Kolhis. About 40% of the total population of Rajasthan live in the Thar Desert.
Occupation: The main occupation of the people is agriculture and animal husbandry. A colourful culture rich in tradition prevails in this desert. The people have a great passion for folk music and folk poetry.
Faune: Due to the diversified habitat and ecosystem, the vegetation, human culture and animal life in this arid region is very rich in contrast to the other deserts of the world. Some wildlife species, which are fast vanishing in other parts of India, are found in the desert in large numbers such as the blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), chinkara (Gazella bennettii) and Indian wild ass (Equus hemionus khur) in the Rann of Kutch.
The region is a haven for 141 species of migratory and resident birds of the desert. One can see eagles, harriers, falcons, buzzards, kestrel and vultures. There are short-toed eagles (Circaetus gallicus), tawny eagles (Aquila rapax), greater spotted eagles (Aquila clanga), laggar falcons (Falco jugger) and kestrels. There are also a number of reptiles.