A Unique Environment For Animals

The Limbless Skink, Bizarre-nosed Chameleon and Tarzan’s Chameleon may sound like made-up animals from Ricky Gervais’s children’s cartoon book Flanimals, but they are very real animals living in Madagascar. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has just updated its Red List of Threatened Species – a list which has involved the study of 61,900 species to produce a document which really can be seen as “a Barometer of Life”.  This island country split from the southern coast of Africa 150 million years ago and has evolved on its own and many of its animals (including 90 per cent of its reptiles) are endemic to its lands. The rare nature of Madagascar’s animals – and its beautiful scenery attracts many visitors.


African safari specialists Safari Consultants can offer tailor made safaris to Madagascar – dream trips which offer the chance for intrepid holiday-makers to see exotic animals that they will not be able to see anywhere else in the world. The vast variety of wildlife, flora and fauna makes Madagascar one of the most unique holiday experiences in Africa. A diverse landscape is available for travellers to explore, including tropical rain forests, spiny forests, open plains, large wetlands, and for those wishing to relax, spectacular beaches.

Although the future of these creatures is by no means guaranteed, the IUCN is heartened by the fact that new conservation areas have recently been designated in Madagascar to offer protection to the most vulnerable species. Tarzan’s Chameleon, the Bizarre-nosed Chameleon and the Limbless Skink are three of the Madagascar species which need the most protection. Here’s some information on them.

The Bizarre-nosed Chameleon

This long-tailed reptile is one of many species endemic to Madagascar and was only identified in 2003 after a single male was collected in 2003 from a forested area near a lake. A female of the same species was discovered nearby in 2006. According to the IUCN, this chameleon’s forest habitat has become threatened by slash-and-burn agriculture, logging and honey-collecting; leading to a fragmentation of its population.

Tarzan’s Chameleon

This chameleon was discovered even more recently than the Bizarre-nosed Chameleon (in August 2010) and the story behind how it got its name indicates its rarity. Salamandra Journal reported that it is normally convention for the researchers who find a new species to name the species after themselves. But this tradition was discarded by the German and Malagasy researchers who found this new chameleon in a small-block of rainforest…instantly recognising that the new species’ restricted range of 4km made it vulnerable to the threat of deforestation, they chose a celebrity name, Tarzan, to highlight its plight. ‘Tarzan’ is yellow or green and adopts an attractive striped pattern when stressed.

Limbless Skink

Understandably, little is known about this species of chameleon – only one specimen has ever been discovered (in 2007) in an area of Madagascan forest of declining quality and quantity. The legless skink observed by researchers inhabited shrubby areas on sandy soil and appeared to be a surface-dweller in contrast to similar species which are ‘burrowers’.

Jean-Christophe Vie, Deputy Director of IUCN’s Global Species Programme, said: “The world is full of marvellous species that are rapidly moving towards becoming things of myth and legend if conservation efforts are not more successfully implemented.” Mr Vie added: “If we do not act now, future generations may not know what a Chinese Water Fir or a Bizarre-nosed Chameleon look like.”