Chapman’s pygmy chameleon is an incredibly small lizard that reaches a maximum length of only 6.2 cm!
This chameleon is one of several species in the genus Rhampholeon found across East Africa. These chameleons diverged from all reptiles more than 40 million years ago, when humans still shared a common ancestor with tamarins and capuchin monkeys.
Chapman’s pygmy chameleon is one of the world’s rarest chameleons, if not the rarest. This small species is endemic to remaining forest fragments in Malawi Hill. These forest fragments amount to just 0.6 km2 due to high levels of habitat clearance and degradation.
Given this extreme fragmentation of the rainforest habitat, and the assumed associated loss of ecological function in the remaining tiny fragments, it is possible this species is now extinct.
Surveys of the remaining forest will be key to determining whether this species persists and, if so, the current population status. If the species does indeed persist, then strong conservation measures must be implemented as soon as possible.
- Order: Squamata
- Family: Chamaeleonidae
- Population: Extremely small - possibly extinct
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 62mm
The species is found in the Natundu Hills of Malawi Hill, Malawi.
Habitat and Ecology
Chapman’s chameleon inhabits rainforest on low altitude mountain slopes, living in low bushes and on the forest floor. They perch on low branches while resting during the night time.