Photo safari – black girdled lizard

This is the black girdled lizard (Cordylus niger), photographer at Cape Point, South Africa. Cape Point is not the southernmost point of the African continent, but it’s frequently regarded as such because it’s a damn sight more impressive than the actual southernmost point. These lizards are a common sight in the winding climb from the carpark to the viewing station and they often go unnoticed. When a place affords breathtaking scenic views of Atlantic Ocean, many people forget to look down.

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I’m guessing that the black colour helps the lizard to absorb the sun’s heat more effectively. There appears to be some confusion among photographers as to whether this species is the Cape girdled lizard (Cordylus cordylus) or the black one (Cordylus niger) – I’m going with the latter.

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There are at least 47 species of girdled lizards (belonging to the genus Cordylus), and most are characterised by the bony spiky scales that you can see here.