Conserving Cape Dwarf Chameleons and their habitat

Anina Lee
Publicado: 29 Enero 2021
Última edición: 03 Noviembre 2021
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Cape Dwarf Chameleons (Bradypodion pumilum) are classified as near-threatened. Their habitat is rapidly giving way to urban and agricultural expansion. In the Greater Hermanus area, chameleons are squeezed into undeveloped urban plots between houses. A heart-wrenching incident spurred the WCC Chameleon Rescue Project: a fun outing to spot chameleons turned to horror when bulldozers flattened the vegetation where we had spotted almost 100 chameleons.


A volunteer chameleon monitoring and rescue group was immediately formed. We conducted a pilot project to ascertain whether the chameleons can be successfully relocated. A total of 120 at-risk chameleons were carefully captured and relocated to an approved site. Each chameleon was documented and photographed before release. The success of this relocation was monitored for a year. Twice a month, the chameleons were recaptured, photographed and released. The results were promising and indicated that it is possible, though not desirable, to rescue and relocate B. pumilum.


África Oriente y África del Sur
Scale of implementation
Connective infrastructure, networks and corridors
Ecosistema urbano
Áreas verdes (parques, jardines, bosque urbano)
Comunicación y divulgación
Conectividad / conservación transfronteriza
Especies y la extinción
Fragmentación del hábitat y degradación
Pérdida de ecosistemas
Sustainable development goals
ODS 11 - Ciudades y comunidades sostenibles
ODS 15 - Vida de ecosistemas terrestres
ODS 17 - Alianzas para lograr los objetivos
Aichi targets
Meta 1: Aumento de la sensibilization sobre la biodiversidad
Meta 2: Valores de biodiversidad integrados
Meta 5: Pérdida de hábitat reducida a la mitad o reducida
Meta 13: Protección de la diversidad genética
Meta 17: Estrategias y planes de acción para la biodiversidad


Hermanus, Western Cape, South Africa


The project was extensively publicised in the local press and social media to raise public awareness of the plight of chameleons in urban areas and the importance of chameleon-friendly gardens and green corridors. We engaged with developers and estate agents to alert us of any impending developments so that we could check the properties for chameleons and relocate them if necessary. We obtained buy-in from the local municipality and provincial authorities. The Overstrand Municipality has sought our help for search-and-rescue of chameleons in areas that will be subjected to prescribed burns.

Chameleon monitoring is very labour-intensive as large numbers of volunteers are needed to do proper surveys - which are conducted after dark when chameleons crawl up the vegetation to sleep and can be more easily spotted. We also have a huge challenge to find suitable relocation sites. Fortunately, the landowner of a new private nature reserve, situated right in the greater Hermanus area, has offered to home any rescued chameleons. WCC staff and volunteers are working tirelessly to remove resprouting alien saplings. Conserving the natural fynbos habitat is a win for both the chameleons and for the natural environment.

A major benefit of the chameleon project is the teaching and learning opportunities that come with hands-on experience in nature. As a result, many children may grow up to become champions for nature.

Contribuido por

Imagen de matthew_38962

Matthew Koehorst Greenpop, IUCN Urban Alliance

Other contributors

Whale Coast Conservation
Sheraine van Wyk
Whale Coast Conservation