Sunday, 4 February 2018

Black Chameleon

It was late in the afternoon when I saw 2 cats Tiger and Rosy, acting strangely near the pool pump, so I went to investigate. I saw Rosy slap her paw at something and thought it might be a snake in amongst the heap of pool net. Chasing the cats away, I had a closer inspection and I found that it was a big Flap Neck Chameleon that was black as an ace of spades.

A black Chameleon? I have seen one this big before but never one being black. I chased the 2 naughty cats away and rescued this poor creature.

I believe there once was many Flap Neck Chameleons in Johannesburg but they have been decimated by the domestic cat population. It was good to find this big in my garden which means that there is a thriving chameleon populations here, now what can I do with these cats?

Chameleons are very territorial and I was thinking releasing him into the Protea forest but we don’t want the cats finding the chameleon again nor the pilgrims who come into the area for firewood, so I phoned Andrew, the Chief curator of the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens, to ask if I can safely relocate him from the Bot Gardens. He agreed and we went down the hill to the Bot Gardens to release the still Black Chameleon.

It is easy just to keep the chameleon but we take a dim view of keeping indigenous creatures in captivity plus it is illegal. Flap Neck chameleons are often sold on the side of the road near the Tarlton crossroads even on the road to Sun City. Firstly you can be in big trouble because you don’t have a permit secondly once you buy one what is stopping the seller to simply dashes back into the bush and grab another. The sad reality is that these areas where these chameleons are sold are very destitute and the locals would do anything to earn money.

I asked Andrew about why this particular Flap Neck chameleon was black, and he said that it was very stressed and in fear, hence the black colour. As soon as we released it into the low branches of a thorn tree, it started getting grey streaks. By the time we had a cup of coffee the chameleon was gone.

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