Monday’s Macro: Cape Dwarf Chameleon

Cape Dwarf Chameleon (Bradypodion pumilum)

This superbly camouflaged chameleon is difficult to spot in dense vegetation.  They may be slow and ponderous in movement but oh what tongues they have!  Reputed to be twice the length of their bodies they shoot them out at lightning speed and can nab insects some distance away.  They used to be fairly common in Cape Town gardens, but now through declining numbers and a fragmented habitat range they are listed as near threatened on IUCN’s Red List. In urban areas it’s predators are mainly domestic cats.  Sadly the growing density of cats kept in suburban areas causes an unnaturally high ratio of predators to prey, leading to the collapse of populations of chameleons and many other species.   Other predators include bird species such as fiscal shrikes, ravens and  crows.  It’s not an easy life for these little creatures despite their ‘invisibility’ tricks for seamlessly blending against a backdrop.  Gardening practices such as using hedge trimmers or insecticides are lethal and the hapless chameleons have been known to be transported out with the garden waste to waste dumps.

16 thoughts on “Monday’s Macro: Cape Dwarf Chameleon

    1. It’s sad that we only realise how serious things have become when it’s too late! We have feral domestic cats in this area which have been so destructive. Yet there is huge protest when there is a cull. It’s always so difficult to practice tough love.

  1. Such a sad state of affairs, Liz, to be afflicting such a beautiful little creature. I hope that this beautiful picture of yours travels far and wide through cyberspace and creates a little awareness that might just make the difference!

    1. Yes, so true, insecticides are lethal as are sterile gardens all ‘short back and sides’. I’m all for natural processes taking care of the ecosystems. So awful to think of chameleons ending up in garbage dumps.

  2. Such a lovely photo , well spotted Liz. We used to have a chameleon living in our garden in Randburg, no idea what kind, but it lived in a bush and was almost like a pet. The children would say hello to him/her when they came home from school. Sad to learn they are yet another species in decline.

    1. They’re charismatic, that’s for sure. I can imagine why your children would be hooked especially being part of daily life. It is sad, suddenly when they’re not there anymore does it dawn that they’re gone.

  3. Such stunning lizards! Chameleons are on my wildlife bucket list. They are equipped with a box of extraordinary superpowers, and yet survival on our ever changing planet seems to be a losing battle for them.

    1. Aren’t they extraordinary! They’re threatened on so many fronts though I like that technology can help in some areas. In Namibia they insert microchips in the namaqua species to track and keep tabs on individual chameleons to deter illegal smuggling. Apparently the pet trade accounts for an estimated 60,000 a year.

      1. That is pretty shocking! Especially considering chameleons breed readily in captivity. I’m sure habitat destruction plays its part, also.

  4. All the reasons for the decline of chameleons have solutions… as you point out. If only people could change ecologically disastrous habits.

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