Save the Pondo Dwarf Chameleon | A Look at Project Pondo

Herpetological Conservation International (HCI) is on a mission; a mission to save the endangered Pondo Dwarf Chameleon. This species is at risk due to its limited range. As the available habitat continues to shrink due to development in the Wild Cost region of South Africa’s Eastern Cape, HCI is looking to purchase available land that has been identified as the home of this wonderful chameleon species.

The goal is to maintain an environment that would protect the Pondo Dwarf Chameleon from extinction, and may be the first attempt to create a reserve specifically to save a chameleon.

Pondo Dwarf Chameleon Current Habitat

The Pondo Dwarf Chameleon is limited to a very specific area near Port St Johns, South Africa. The land is currently unprotected, leaving it open to development or use for agricultural purposes, a common threat due to increased urbanization in the area.

The area being sought for purchase is part of the Wild Cost, a section in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa. The environment is known as “Afrotropical,” referring to the unique coastal forest properties. Currently, the eco-region is considered endangered by both the IUCN and WWF.

The Goals of Project Pondo

HCI intends to purchase available land that is known to be inhabited by the Pondo Dwarf Chameleon. This allows the land to be set aside, creating a safe reserve for these wonderful creatures to thrive. Surveys have been completed to ensure that the targeted properties are currently inhabited by the chameleon, ensuring each purchase provides a benefit to the species.

As land is secured, the hope is to partner with local researches to perform various ecological studies. These studies would allow participants to be better informed regarding the species needs, and will aid in any habitat restoration attempts.

Other Benefiting Species

The region is also host to a number of other endangered animal species. The species would also benefit from the purchase and preservation of the land:

  • Giant Golden Mole
  • Samango Monkey
  • Spotted Ground Thrush
  • Cape Parrot
  • Pondoland Cannibal Snail
  • Pondo Flat-Necked Shieldback
  • Transkei Shieldback
  • Castleton’s Flightless Katydid

The reserve would also help the endangered Pondo Weeping Thorn.

Financial Goals

To complete this ambitious mission, HCI is looking to raise the required project budget of $50,000. HCI is a registered 501c(3) public charity. All donations made to the cause re tax deductible per federal law.

Would You Like to Help Save the Pondo Dwarf Chameleon?

If you would like to help Project Pondo reach their goal, see their Member Plant campaign page.

More information can also be found on the HCI website, as well as the HCI Facebook page.

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow | The Endangered Belalanda Chameleon

Native to the south-western portion of Madagascar, the Belalanda Chameleon, or Furcifer belalandaensis, is considered to be a critically endangered species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) includes the Belalanda Chameleon on their Red List, which contains a variety of species that are thought to be on the edge of extinction.

What Does Critically Endangered Mean?

The IUCN develops criteria to help classify the health of animal species across the world. If classified as critically endangered, it is believed that the species faces an extremely high risk of becoming extinct in the wild. The Belalanda Chameleon is considered critically endangered due to the limited size of its known natural habitat, as well as the assumed size of the population.

A Tiny Natural Habitat

The Belalanda Chameleon is named after the town of Belalanda, where this particular species can be found. While many chameleons inhabit Madagascar, the Belalanda is thought to only live in an area of about 1.5 square miles. Much of the gallery forest that was known to be home to this particular chameleon has been cleared away, but reforestation efforts, combined with education of the local population, aim to help bring this species back from the brink.

A Mysterious Creature

One of the only descriptions that is fairly easy to find is that the Belalanda Chameleon is green in color. Due to the falling population, not much else is known about the Belalanda Chameleon. This makes conservation efforts particularly challenging, as it is difficult to determine what kind of environment would help the population reestablish itself in its home area. With that in mind, funding had been provided to help the Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology in the United Kingdom, and Madagaskiara Voakajy of Madagascar to study the species and its habitat to help draw plans for further protection.

Protection Efforts

In order to support protection efforts, the Belalanda Chameleon cannot be collected, transported, or traded away from the local area. As part of the conservation efforts, the species will be evaluated to determine if it is suitable for captive breeding, which may help increase the wild population while also allowing some to be housed in appropriate facilities.

So far, the Belalanda has only been found in three towns in Madagascar, and the true number that exist in the wild is still unknown.