Last chance for survival for one of the least studied endemic reptiles of Malawi: Chapman’s pygmy chameleon.
Malawi is a densely populated country experiencing a high deforestation rate and subsequent pressure on its limited forest resources. The Matandwe Forest reserve close to the border with Mozambique comprises an isolated small block of lowland rain forest as well as an extended patch of degraded Miombo forest. Besides botanical knowledge, little is known about its biodiversity. In 1992 a unique species of pygmy chameleon (Rhampholeon chapmanorum) was described from this forest reserve. The limited distribution and the rapid degradation of its forest habitat makes this species critically endangered (CR) with very little data available. A survey of the remaining forest fragments is urgently needed to determine if this species is still present or might have gone extinct. We mounted a rapid biodiversity survey collecting data on the distribution and population size of the endemic pygmy chameleon in this forest reserve.