"Chameleons occur almost exclusively on mainland Africa and the nearby island
of Madagascar, and most species inhabit rainforests. Because these rainforests
are naturally fragmented by the more arid savanna vegetation types,
forest-living chameleons have been naturally isolated from each other for
millions of years.
This isolation has resulted in many populations evolving into distinct species
that are highly adapted to forest life. They cannot survive anywhere else.
These forest adapted chameleons are doomed if their forests disappear.
Unfortunately, this is what’s happening for many species. Nearly 40% of 218
chameleon species are threatened with extinction, with another 19% considered
near-threatened. The reason for this is clear – forests are being removed
through uncontrolled slash and burn clearing, primarily for agriculture. One of
the chameleon species facing extinction is the tiny, forest-living Chapman’s
pygmy chameleon (Rhampholeon chapmanorum
) from the Malawi Hills in southern
Forests, particularly rainforests, are home to hundreds of thousands, perhaps
millions, of species that are uniquely and sometimes strangely adapted to that
habitat. Indeed, these species are a fundamental part of the forest ecosystem,
including the little Chapman’s chameleon. The decline of forest creatures like
this chameleon is an unquestionable warning sign that forests are losing
integrity. This is worrying because forests contribute significantly to
regulation of the Earth’s air, water and climate. By clearing forests, we are
altering our atmosphere and weather."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics