I spent my childhood up to 12 years in the desert, among salty takyrs and saxaul thickets. Nature was right in the palm of my hand – its riches, beauty and diversity were a gift for us, children, and the changeable weather of the Karakum Desert was something like a school of life and helped us grow up. The memory retained many meetings with different animals inhabiting the sandy hills, and each time it was a small, personal discovery for the boys who were always ready for new impressions and experiences.
One story is about the desert monitor lizard, or zemzen in Turkmen – one of the most fascinating representatives of the fauna of Turkmenistan, an important element of natural ecosystems and a species that maintains the balance and regulates the numbers of rodents and other small animals. Nature has given it the most remarkable appearance among the inhabitants of the Karakum Desert. It is also called “the crocodile of the desert”, however in fact, it is just a large lizard with a head on a massive neck, a gaze of eyes protected by thick separate eyelids and a movable forked tongue. If you disturb the reptile, it begins to hiss menacingly and takes on a frightening look. The strong tail is its adornment and weapon.