Today, the animal I have most enjoyed seeing is the Water Monitor Lizard

These are tough cookies. They look prehistoric. The staff at the lodge witnessed a fight between one of these lizards and a cobra, last year in the car park. The lizard won easily and dragged the dead cobra back to its lair.

Terrific forked tongue, tasting the air
Terrific forked tongue, tasting the air

This series of photographs was taken at Luangwa Wafwa, an ox-bow lake. Remember your geography? The Luangwa River used to flow in a big loop but the course changed one rainy season, and the Wafwa was left high and wet. The name Wafwa apparently means “dead” in Kunda language. But it is overflowing with bird life, ducks, geese, herons, storks, waders and ibis. But there are lots of reptiles here too. And the good thing about water monitor lizards is that they eat crocodile eggs. They sniff out the nest sites with their forked tongues and gorge themselves. Perahps that is why this lizard looks like it’s smiling.


This is a young lizard, with  less dark skin
This is a young lizard, with less dark skin

The claws on their feet are scalpel sharp. Their tough skin is patterned, beaded and resistant to snake bite. I don’t think their eyesight is very good. Three water monitors pottered around my vehicle, Phyllis, while I took photographs. Occasionally they would perk up when the shutter clicked, but it was as though I was invisible.

Count the water monitor lizards in the grass
Count the water monitor lizards in the grass

How many water monitors can you see in this image of grass covering a small pond just outside the park?

By Dr Alfred Prunesquallor

Maverick doctor with 40 years experience, I reduced my NHS commitment in 2013. I am now enjoying being free lance, working where I am needed overseas. Now I am working in the UK helping with the current coronavirus pandemic.


  1. I saw this animal in my nearest river wer people fetch water.i was confuain it with crocodile and I was so scared then later on it went to de water and dissappear. so I want to knw the danger of dis animal towards the community and animals that drink river water and if it s dangerous were am I going to report it.thank you

    1. This creature eats the eggs of crocodiles. It is frightened of people and will run or swim away if approached. I have never known it to attack a human.

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