project news

Chameleon Compendium

News item submitted by Jyot Jabbal
News item dated 21 Jul 2010


Chameleon Surveys in the forests of northern Madagascar have been going especially well, with an impressive 187 chameleons recorded. As a flagship species in Madagascar, chameleons have a significant place in the countries conservation initiative. By observing their population trends and resources, Frontier hopes to preserve this highly unique group of reptiles as a representative of the habitat they live in.


The most prominent species documented were the Malagasy Giant Chameleon (Furcifer oustaleti) and the Plated Leaf Chameleon (Brookesia stumffi). Populations of both species have varied to considerable degree throughout the year, and this is possibly due to seasonal changes and hibernation/migration patterns. The Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) and Petter’s chameleon (Furcifer petteri) were also documented.


In addition to habitat loss, the chameleons are at risk from the exotic pet trade. Though they are adaptive as a species they are difficult to maintain as pets, and their welfare is often compromised in transit when they are illegally caught and sold.


Chameleons are largely insectivorous and rely heavily on the vegetation they dwell in. As a result, maintaining their habitat is essential to ensure the persistence of the animals themselves. The data collected will be used to determine the structure of chameleon populations within the forests. This, together with information about chameleon habitat dependencies, can give us an idea about the magnitude of the threat of habitat disturbance to endemic species of chameleon.