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4/25/21

Voeltzkow's Chameleon

Voeltzkow’s Chameleon, (Furcifer voeltzkowi) is a species of chameleon rediscovered in northwestern Madagascar in 2018. It had not been seen since 1913. A team of researchers from Germany and Madagascar went looking for this chameleon as part of Global Wildlife Conservation’s Search for Lost Species program, a plan to find species thought to be extinct. The team searched the forest by night for six days, but it was in an uncultivated hotel garden that they finally found their prey: Voeltzkow’s chameleons. They found three males and 15 females, suggesting a stable population, but researchers warn that the fact that they haven’t been seen for this long suggests conservation measures are needed.

Although not much is known about Voeltzkow’s chameleon, researchers found that females, when being handled by humans, interacting with males, or when pregnant will change colors from a calm green to black, white and blue with purple and red patterns. This was the first time female Voeltzkow’s chameleons were documented.

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Image courtesy of Kathrin Glaw.

The researchers predict that Voeltzkow’s chameleon is similar to another species, the Labord’s chameleon. From this they deduced that both hatch, grow, fight, mate, and die in a few short months in the rainy spring season. This and their size made them particularly hard to find.

Although the Voeltzkow’s chameleon has not been rated as an endangered species yet, the team of researchers suggest they should be considered endangered. Because of their distribution range, Voeltzkow’s chameleons are most likely not critically endangered, but the fact that they haven’t been seen in more than 100 years is worrisome. Although little is known about this species, they are most likely threatened by deforestation of their habitat. We should put conservation measures in place to protect this amazing species and learn more about them!

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Image courtesy of Frank Glaw

A female sleeping chameleon. Image by Frank Glaw.

A male Voeltzkow's Chameleon. Image courtesy of Frank Glaw.

A male chameleon. Image by Frank Glaw.

Works Cited

Pappas, S. (2020, November 03). 'Lost' chameleon rediscovered after a century in hiding. And it's spectacular. Retrieved November 10, 2020, from https://www.livescience.com/lost-chameleon-rediscovered-after-century.html

Press, A. (2020, October 30). Chameleon last seen a century ago rediscovered in Madagascar. Retrieved November 10, 2020, from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/30/voeltzkow-chameleon-rediscovered-madagascar

A chameleon not seen in a century reappears in a Madagascar garden. (2020, November 02). Retrieved November 10, 2020, from https://news.mongabay.com/2020/11/a-chameleon-not-seen-in-a-century-reappears-in-a-madagascar-garden/

Cover image: A male (right) and female (left) Voeltzkow’s chameleon. Image by Frank Glaw.