One of the world’s rarest species of tiny chameleons once thought to be extinct due to deforestation, has been found clinging to survival in small patches of forest in Malawi.
The critically endangered Chapman’s Pygmy Chameleon is endemic to the rainforests of the Malawi Hills in southern Malawi, a country located in southeastern Africa.
Professor Krystal Tolley, the lead author of the study, said in a statement, “We got goosebumps and started jumping around when we found it (the chameleon).”
Tolley estimates that the species’ number has shrunk by 80 percent since the 80s due to deforestation.
The species are surviving in populations that are isolated from each other, according to DNA analysis.
Meaning, chameleons in each forest patch cannot breed with other chameleons because of forest fragmentation.
Researchers say this will reduce the species’ genetic diversity and increase their extinction rate if conservation efforts are not made.
This rare species of chameleons was thought to be extinct due to deforestation https://t.co/zvyKIGSUeY— FOX Carolina News (@foxcarolinanews) August 3, 2021
“I get sad when I think what’s happening to them — what we are doing to their habitat. They are just helpless victims.” Tolley added.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently lists Chapman’s pygmy chameleon as critically endangered on its Red List of Threatened Species.