The Pondo Dwarf Chameleon is known only to occur in the vicinity of Port St Johns, South Africa. It prefers thick coastal forest and suitable habitat for the species is believed to be limited to 45 km2 (17 mi2) (Branch, 1998; Tolley & Burger, 2007). Bradypodion caffer is assessed as Endangered because of its extremely limited distribution, the extent of occurrence measuring less than 5,000 km2 (1931 mi2), and threats to its habitat (Tolley, 2010). Unfortunately, the majority of the species already limited distribution is outside of protected areas, the lone exception being the Silaka Nature Preserve, a small preserve of only 400 hectares (988 acres). Loss and degradation of unprotected habitat in the region are attributed to, overgrazing by livestock, conversion of forest to agricultural land, fuel-wood collection, invasion of non-native plants, and urbanization (Driver et al., 2005). Little is known about this enigmatic dwarf chameleon’s ecology and population size as basic biological studies are sorely lacking.
Project Location: South Africa
Species: Pondo Dwarf Chameleon (Bradypodion caffer)
Species Status: Endangered, CITIES Appendix II
1. Branch, W.R. 1998. Field Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
2. Tolley, K. and Burger, M. 2007. Chameleons of southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
3. Tolley, K. 2010. Bradypodion caffer. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2.
<www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 July 2015.
4. Driver, A., Maze, K., Rouget, M., Lombard, A.T., Nel, J., Turpie, J.K., Cowling, R.M., Desmet, P., Goodman, P., Harris, J., Jonas, Z., Reyers, B., Sink, K., Strauss, T. 2005. National spatial biodiversity assessment 2004: priorities for biodiversity conservation in South Africa. In: Strelitzia (ed.). South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
PHOTOS BY TYRONE JAMES PING
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Our goal is to purchase available land inhabited by the Pondo Dwarf Chameleon so that it may be set aside as a reserve for the species. Members of HCI have already surveyed various available patches and confirmed the species presence. Patches of habitat targeted for purchase have been carefully selected in order to maximize area protected while keeping an eye toward future corridor creation between patches. Corridors are crucial as they allow for gene flow among populations and therefore minimize the risk of inbreeding. We hope to partner with local researchers on basic ecological studies of the species to better inform habitat restoration attempts of any acquired disturbed lands. To our knowledge, this would be the first ever chameleon-centric reserve in the world.