Alrighty, so I know that given this heading, it looks like this posting might take forever, but I’m going to do my best to churn out everything as quickly as possible.
Right, so I’m going to give a bit of scientific background for those people who are interested in it. For those of you who are here just for the pictures, you can just scroll along and see them.
When the french first landed on the west coast, they remarked on the number of reptiles, specifically chameleons that were to be found within the small area that they ventured through. They were not wrong, Madagascar has the highest concentration of chameleon diversity anywhere in the world, and half the world’s species. Furthermore, it is home to both the longest and the heaviest chameleons in the world, one of which we came across on a regular basis.
In terms of phylogeny, Madagascar’s chameleons are split up into three groups. Calumma, Furcifer, and Brookesia. Around camp, we found only Furcifer chameleons, but on a three day trip to Montagne d’Ambre, Madagascar’s oldest national park, we found representatives of both of the other genus.
So, around base camp, we came across three species of chameleon: F. pardalis – Panther Chameleon, F. oustaleti – Oustalet’s Chameleon, and F. petteri – Petter’s Chameleon. They’re fairly easy to find at night, considerably more difficult to spot during the day. The ease with which we could find them meant that I had ample opportunity to take pictures of them.
Shooting chameleons can be difficult. At night, light was clearly a problem. And of course, framing them was a challenge. They were fairly mild mannered though, which allowed me to set them up the way I wanted, and frame for that ultimate shot.
I never did get a presentable photo of an adult pardalis. Shame. Oh well, I love the little tykes anyways.
Moving swiftly onwards:
This was actually taken on the last night. We found him whilst looking for lemurs. He is about the size of your average house cat, and four centimetres off of the chameleon world record length. Huge, vicious beasty. Speaking of which, F. oustaleti and C. parsonii are the worlds two largest chameleons. Moving on, more male shots, and an idea of the size of some of these monsters:
This, by the way, is Robbie, one of the guys on staff on the project. You’ll find out more about him when I do the Work in Madagascar post.
And now for the females:
Woah that’s a lot. Anyways, so these two species are rather large. But Furcifer covers a whole range, and around our camp was a thriving population of some of the smallest of the large chameleons.
We had thought that this was a full size male, until, on the last night, we found an enormous one, about twice the size of the above male:
And that, interestingly, is it for Furcifer, and fo part one! Part two should be out some time tomorrow.
Brace yourselves. Until then.