Chameleon Species Thought To Be Extinct For Over 100 Years Is Found In A Hotel Garden In Northern Madagascar

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Chameleon Species Thought To Be Extinct For Over 100 Years Is Found In A Hotel Garden In Northern Madagascar

Photo: Left: Male and female Voeltzkow's Chameleon, by Frank Glaw; Right: Female Voeltzkow's Chameleon by Kathrin Glaw

A species of chameleon that was thought to be extinct for over 100 years has been found again in a garden of a hotel in Madagascar. Last seen in 1913, the Voeltzkow's chameleon was discovered by a group of scientists working for the Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) as part of their "25 Most Wanted List" which focuses on endangered creatures.

Frank Glaw, who helped run the expedition said of the finding:

"Our efforts were entirely unsuccessful during most of the trip to find it where we thought it would most likely be. That was really frustrating, but the rediscovery during the last few days of the trip immediately changed everything and brought us an incredibly happy ending. It was a special mixture of great pleasure, excitement and relief."

In the garden, the team of wildlife experts found 18 chameleons, 3 males and 15 females. The previous research on the species carried out at the end of the 19th century had only ever noted females and so this documentation of males is in fact the first ever.

Both males and females of the species are green, but like other chameleons they can change colour when excited or angry, usually to a flush indigo. They also have small details such as red or white spots that change with their emotions.

Don Church, the president of the organisation that found the chameleons, said:

"The Voeltzkow's chameleon adds color and beauty to the planet, and reminds us that even when all seems lost, a great adventure can rekindle hope even for species we haven't seen since Woodrow Wilson was president. Now we have so much to learn about this extraordinary reptile, including how we can best save it from extinction."

The Voeltzkow's chameleon will now be removed from the list of species believed extinct and instead be moved onto the list of those animals regarded as extremely endangered. As this is the only known sighting of this particular chameleon for over 100 years, it is entirely unclear how many more are out there within wider Madagascar.

The Voeltzkow's chameleon isn't the only creature to be removed from the extinct list in the last few years. In just the last 3 years alone, the velvet pitcher plant, the silver-backed chevrotain, Wallace's giant bee and the Jackson's climbing salamander have all been rediscovered. Madagascar's most famous extinct species is the Dodo, which died out in the 19th century due to overhunting and a lack of fear of humans. As of yet, there has still be no new sittings of any of the flightless birds, but it remains a very slight possibility.

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Thinking Humanity: Chameleon Species Thought To Be Extinct For Over 100 Years Is Found In A Hotel Garden In Northern Madagascar
Chameleon Species Thought To Be Extinct For Over 100 Years Is Found In A Hotel Garden In Northern Madagascar
A species of chameleon that was thought to be extinct for over 100 years has been found again in a garden of a hotel in Madagascar. Last seen in 1913,
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