Scientists have found the Voeltzkow’s chameleon in its natural habitat in northwestern Madagascar, the first time the species were rediscovered in over a century.
Several living specimens of the evasive reptiles were spotted during a targeted expedition, researchers from Germany and Madagascar announced in a research paper published on Friday.
“Our planet is probably facing the beginning of an enormous extinction of species, often referred to as the ‘sixth mass extinction’, the ‘Holocene extinction’ or the ‘Anthropocene extinction’,” researchers wrote.
“Rediscoveries of ‘lost’ species are very important as they provide crucial data for conservation measures and also bring some hope amidst the biodiversity crisis.”
Voeltzkow’s chameleons are hard to find because of their very short life span, which only lasts a few months during the rainy season. The reptiles live in areas that are not easily accessible in the wet season, making it even more difficult for scientists to study them.
The chameleons live along the coast between Katsepy and Soalala, as well as Antrema, a new protected region in Madasgar suffering from slash-and-burn agriculture and wildfires that pose a risk to the animals.
Experts are still looking to learn more about the species, including its conservation status, life history and their genital morphology.