The Popular Belief about a Desert and it Being a Tropical Garden
Many people who live in areas surrounded by forests and hills believe deserts to be vast areas of sand where no rain falls and therefore, it is hot and dry. In such circumstances, there is hardly any vegetation to be found in such areas. However, this definition is not entirely correct. People who closely study it can find desert to be a beautiful place and is a home to a variety of people who live under hot and dry conditions. In a desert, the ground is hardly ever covered with grass, plants or trees. Rain in the desert are also rare, but whenever it does rain the desert flowers bloom and the desert looks no less than a tropical garden.
At times, the flat, unchanging wasteland of dry sand gives way to mountains and hills. It may have an oasis. An oasis is a small patch of green island with a well of water, allowing the plants and trees to grow better. A desert may be hot like the ‘Thar Desert’ or cold like ‘Ladakh’. But, usually it is believed that any place that has little or no water and vegetation is called a desert. There are some deserts which have absolutely no water. In such places, strong winds blow and raise sand in mounds. Such sand mountains are called ‘sand dunes’. These sands dunes keep moving and shifting in the desert. Plants, however, can hardly sustain themselves in such weather.
Sustainability in the Desert
Living things are dependent on water for their sustainance. Therefore, very few plants and animals are found in a desert. The few that are to be found have adapted themselves to the conditions in a desert. They have developed an ability to require less water for their existence. Camel, ‘the ship of the desert’ can do without water for several days. This is possible because camels can drink a lot of water in one go and they lose very little water as they hardly sweat. Humans are required to constantly sweat in high temperature in order to maintain their body temperature.
The Smaller Desert Animals and Plants
The smaller desert animals only come out of their burrows during night and avoid the heat during the day. Most of them either eat other animals or plants and meet their minimum water requirement from the moisture present in the meat and the plant juices, respectively. Desert plants, too, likewise adapt themselves to the desert climate. Cactus, for instance, can store water in its thick stems.
Absence of the Protective Blanket
In humid climates, the moisture in the atmosphere casts a protective blanket on the earth. In deserts, this protective blanket is not there because of occasional rains. Therefore, the deserts heat up rapidly during the day and cool off rapidly during the night. However, despite the harshness of the climate, the deserts are an important part of nature.