In 2015 our Bionerds Team learnt of a Chameleon species that is found deep in the
Grootvadersbosch Forest in the Western Cape. It is an area we know well, and spend quite a
bit of time in, we have just never really paid much attention to the chameleons in the forest because
we assumed that they would be the same as the ones on the outskirts of the forest - which is Bradypodion
gutturale, the Karoo/Robertsons Dwarf Chameleon.
In the field guide "Chameleons of Southern Africa" by Dr. Krystal Tolley and Marius Burger, they speak of a chameleon
in this forest that needs further investigation.
During a field trip in 2016 Keir found a chameleon deep in the forest, and after discussions with experts he had to take them back into the forest to collect a specimen. It turned out to be the Chameleon species referenced in "Chameleons of Southern Africa", which everyone have been searching for over the previous 12 years.
We have subsequently teamed up with Dr. Krystal Tolley on this elusive species, and have collected 5 DNA samples for her to be able to complete the dataset, and determine whether this will be a subspecies of Bradypodion damaranum, the Knysna Dwarf Chameleon - or whether the fragmentation and isolation of this patch of forest has indeed led to a speciation in these enigmatic lizards, which would then mean that South Africa will be another Dwarf Chameleon species richer! We keenly await the results.
In the meantime Bionerds is undertaking research into the habits of this species, their spatial habitat utilization as well as presence/absence surveys throughout the forest of the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy - we are also very excited about their response to climatic conditions in the forest!
Chameleons of the Forest...
Our Forest Chameleon Research project...
This project is self funded, we carry most of our own costs since we spend a lot of time in this forest during our own #EcoExplorations - we will however need to start buying temperature loggers, as well as camera traps for these surveys. If you feel you want to #HelpUsScience and fund some of these costs please consider making a small donation towards this project.