While taking in the views of the magnificent Zambezi River from Peace Parks Foundation’s Mwandi office, former Kavango Zambezi Project Manager, Gordon Homer, spots some local wildlife in the bushes below. It appears that Gordon has found a large, lazing lizard, more formally known as a Nile monitor lizard, who is enjoying soaking up the sun after having a dip in the Zambezi.

Two species of these large lizards occur in southern Africa – the rock monitor lizard and the Nile monitor lizard. The latter, like our friend seen in the video above, is Africa’s largest lizard capable of growing over a whopping two metres in length.

It is thought that these reptiles originated in Asia over 65 million years ago, making them one of the oldest and iconic surviving species on the planet. The Nile monitor lizard is one of the most ferocious predators capable of hunting with incredible speed and agility in water and on land. Although finding these lizards feeding on anything from carrion to bird’s eggs is not an unusual sight, they also help to keep the crocodile population in check by raiding crocodile nests.

These intelligent reptiles can often be seen working together to raid crocodile’s nests, with one lizard acting as a distraction and luring the female crocodile away from her eggs. At the same time, the other sneaks in and steals the precious source of protein.

Peace Parks works with the local community here to protect the Zambezi River so that creatures such as the monitor lizard can go about its business in safety. This ensures a healthy river, balanced ecosystems and thriving people.

As Gordon and Simalaha’s Project Manager, Ian Middleton sit soaking up the views, they take some time to appreciate what a privilege it is to work in Simalaha Community Conservancy. In this place, local communities and wildlife are truly thriving in nature!