Searching For Endangered Chameleons - Field Trip Of Note.

Searching For Endangered Chameleons - Field Trip Of Note.

Postby Fooble » Sun Aug 21, 2016 10:32 am

As many of you may know, I am an avid field herper From South Africa. the last few years my main objective has been to find and photograph Bradypodion across South Africa.

Currently, there are http://www.tyroneping.co.za/chameleons/ 17 described species in South Africa (with only two species not being endemic to the region)

With the addition of my day job finding the necessary days to travel +2200kms is not that easy, I'd had this trip planned on the cards for a while with two public holidays in close succession I was able to take 6 days away from work to target Bradypodion taeniabronchum - Elandsberg Dwarf Chameleon.

Now Bradypodion taeniabronchum - Elandsberg Dwarf Chameleon has a total habitat range of only 5 850km2 oh which only 400kms2 is thought to have suitable habitat for this chameleon to exist in. In 1996 was listed as endangered and by 1998 this status was elevated as critically endangered in 1998.

Finding a needle in a haystack may actually be easier than finding this single specimen.

The trip plan:
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Species encountered:
Acontias lineicauda - Algoa Legless Skink
Acontias orientalis - Eastern Cape Legless Skink
Agama atra - Southern Ground Agama
Amietophrynus pardalis - Eastern Leopard Toad
Bradypodion taeniabronchum - Elandsberg Dwarf Chameleon
Bradypodion ventrale - Eastern Cape Dwarf Chameleon
Boaedon capensis - Brown House Snake
Cordylus cordylus - Cape Girlded Lizard
Crotaphopeltis hotamboeia - Herald Snake
Dasyeltis scabra - Rhombic Egg Eater
Duberria lutrix - Common Slug Eater
Hemidactylus mabouia - Tropical house Gecko
Hyperolious semidiscus - Yellow Striped Green Frog
Lamprophis fuscus - Yellow Bellied House Snake
Leptotyphlops nigricans - Black Thread Snake
Lygodactylus capensis - Cape Dwarf Gecko
Pachydactylus maculatus - Spotted Thick Toed Gecko
Philothamnus natalensis occidentalis - Western Natal Green Snake
Psammophis crucifer - Cross Marked Whip Snake
Psammophylax rhombeatus rhombeatus - Spotted Grass Snake
Scelotes anguineus - Algoa Dwarf Burrowing Skink
Sclerophrys capensis - Racous Toad
Strongylopus grayii - Clicking Stream Frog
Trachylepis homalocephala - Red Sided Skink
Tropidosaura montana rangeri - Common Mountain Lizard

Spent a lot of time looking at this view:
Blazing sun:
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Flash rain storms:
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Acontias lineicauda - Algoa Legless Skink
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Acontias orientalis - Eastern Cape Legless Skink
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Variation from Port Elizabeth
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Farmlands near Harding.
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Agama atra - Southern Ground Agama
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Some mornings were better than others:
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Some were like this:
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Amietophrynus pardalis - Eastern Leopard Toad
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A few more hours like this:
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Now the strange thing is, I probably see 10-15 of these geckos on a daily basis but it dawned on me I've never photographed one? They're commonly seen on the walls of houses and are seen as a "pest". Interestingly where i found this individual on a coastal dune they're not naturally from the area. So after years of translocations, these little geckos have extended their range Southwards along the Southern African coastline.
[img]Hemidactylusmabouia[/img] - Tropical House Gecko.
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I was based in Grahamstown for a few days and found some Bradypodion the town is rather abundant with Bradypodion ventrale - Eastern Cape Dwarf Chameleon.

Adult female:
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Adult Male:
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Juvenile:
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Grahamstown certainly didn't disappoint and picked up 15 species in quick succession. Although it being extreamly cold and windy.

Cordylus cordylus - Cape Girdled Lizard
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Myself photographing a Cape Girdled Lizard (Photo Luke Kemp)
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Crotaphopeltis hotamboeia - Herald Snake
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Egg Eaters are prolific across Southern Africa, the montane grasslands are no exception.
Dasyeltis scabra - Rhombic Egg Eater
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Tropidosaura montana rangeri - Common Mountain Lizard
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Another extreamly common and variable snake we found in decent numbers.
Duberria lutrix - Common Slug Eater
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One of the most ridiculous places I've photographed herps, Bathurst pineapple fields with the worlds largest man-mad pineapple.
These large reed frogs make use of the small pools of water at the base of the pineapple plants.
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The species I went to Grahamstown to find, over the years I've found a few of these snakes but never manage to get decent photos. After finding a few specimens I was happy with the results.
Lamprophis fuscus - Yellow Bellied House Snake
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Note the tail curling something often seen in the Southern African Python.
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Larger specimen
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Another small nondescript species i seldom photograph due to their size and reputation for never sitting still. This specimen was found under a stone on a coastal dune. Specimen was 78mm probably not even 2mm in diameter.
Leptotyphlops nigricans - Black Thread Snake
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Much like the Tropical House Gecko, these Cape Dwarf Geckos are extremely abundant in my garden back home, but again I have few decent photographs of them. These geckos are also in the process of extending their range Southwards along the coast.
Lygodactylus capensis - Cape Dwarf Gecko
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I just love the green snakes in the Philothamnus group, people have difficulty telling the two apart so I tried to capture the turquoise coloration fo the Western Natal Green snake on this specimen.
Philothamnus natalensis occidentalis - Western Natal Green Snake
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The Spotted thick toed geckos in the Eastern Cape are incredibly variable, after finding 30+ specimens here's a selection of their variations.
Pachydactylus maculatus - Spotted Thick Toed Gecko
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Individuals from under the same stone:
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Finally nice to see the prettier Eastern Cape specimens of this species as the Kwa-Zulu Natal individuals I am used to seeing aren't nearly as vividly marked.
Psammophylax rhombeatus rhombeatus - Spotted Grass Snake
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This is close to the largest specimen I've seen around a hand size.
Sclerophrys capensis - Racous Toad
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One of the things that keeps you going in the field, is going out and looking for a species you've never seen but have an idea of where they should be. Always great adding another species to the lifer list.
Scelotes anguineus - Algoa Dwarf Burrowing Skink
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Whilst scratching around for the Scelotes above I found this Red Sided Skink about 10cm below the surface in some fine sand.
Trachylepis homalocephala - Red Sided Skink
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This species is abundant and must have found 15 or so in a short period of time, interesting to see where the two phases occurring at the same locality often individuals within 2meteres of one another.
Psammophis crucifer - Cross Marked Whip Snake
Standard form.
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Uniform or patternless form.
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After a successful few days field herping in Grahamstown I set off to Port Elizabeth, in the afternoon so I'd have enough time to survey the habitat during the day, without having to wait all night for it to get dark.

Habitat of Bradypodion-taeniabronchum near Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.
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We patiently waited for night fall, not to waste time found one of these
Strongylopus grayii - Clicking Stream Frog.
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Luke photographing an Eastern Cape Legless skink while we waited for it to get dark.
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Oh and back to the search about that pesky Bradypodion...

After a few hours of searching in near gale force winds we were ready to call it a night and chalk this Bradypodion search off as a loss and the 2000kms travelled would have been in vain...untill we spotted this:

Bradypodion taeniabronchum
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Bradypodion taeniabronchum - Note the rich coloration of the gular creases. -
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Bradypodion taeniabronchum
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For size comparison:
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Thanks for looking and I hoped you enjoyed the little insight into this journey of finding Bradypodion taeniabronchum along with the other reptiles and amphibians.

My current updated Bradypodion list:
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More images over at: http://www.tyroneping.co.za/chameleons

Thanks for looking:

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Re: Searching For Endangered Chameleons - Field Trip Of Note

Postby Mitton » Mon Aug 22, 2016 9:30 am

Excelent post again. Congrats on ticking another Bradypodion off the list.

Love the Yellow Belly.

Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Searching For Endangered Chameleons - Field Trip Of Note

Postby Fooble » Mon Aug 22, 2016 11:48 am

Thanks man! Always nice finding yellow bellies we found three in total.

Appreciate you taking a look at all the images.


It's annoying the images are cut off but pull from my site.
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Re: Searching For Endangered Chameleons - Field Trip Of Note

Postby Mitton » Mon Aug 22, 2016 12:23 pm

Fooble wrote:It's annoying the images are cut off but pull from my site.

Yeah, it is the forum limiting the width. I just click on Quote on the original post and then Expand View to see the full pics.
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Re: Searching For Endangered Chameleons - Field Trip Of Note

Postby Mehelya » Mon Aug 22, 2016 3:30 pm

Stunning as always Fooble! Some real gems there, and excellent photography! Also dig the Yellow-bellies. So, they don't really grow that big huh? Dang, thought they would be bigger than that at least! ;)
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Re: Searching For Endangered Chameleons - Field Trip Of Note

Postby Fooble » Tue Aug 23, 2016 11:25 am

Thanks man! The largest yellow belly we got was about 55cm or so not very large. But very cool!
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Re: Searching For Endangered Chameleons - Field Trip Of Note

Postby Westley Price » Thu Sep 01, 2016 6:39 pm

Great finds Fooble!

Some rare species in the mix there. Great photography too.
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Re: Searching For Endangered Chameleons - Field Trip Of Note

Postby Fooble » Fri Sep 02, 2016 7:53 am

Westley Price wrote:Great finds Fooble!

Some rare species in the mix there. Great photography too.



Cheers thanks Wes!
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