The Mediterranean chameleon is also known as the common chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon) and is a native to the Algarve as well as southern Spain, Cyprus and Crete. An Old-World lizard, part of the known world prior to the discovery of the Americas, the common chameleon is now under threat.
This interesting reptile is mainly shades of green with yellow or brown in colour and is usually found in bushes and small trees in scrubland areas. It has a prehensile tail and also four toes to grasp twigs and branches.
Cameleons change colour in response to temperature, light and other factors that may change its mood ie anger. They do not alter colour to camouflage themselves as commonly believed, they do so when feeling threatened or perhaps when trying to attract a mate.
A group of young people living in the Algarve have created an association, SOS Chameleon (SOS Camaleão), with the goal of saving the reptile from extinction in the region.
Generally found near the coastline, SOS Camaleão says that the survival of the common chameleon is threated by the fragmentation of its territory, illegal trapping (for monetary gain) and accidental trampling or being run over.
With the idea of building CRICA, the Algarve Chameleon Recovery and Research Centre, SOS Camaleão submitted a quotation to the 2019 Portuguese Youth Budget, Orçamento Participativo Jovem 2019, in the hope of winning funds to help build the centre.
And win they did! CRICA now have €60,000 to construct their research centre within the Ria Formosa Natural Park near Faro.
CRICA hope to partner with Algarve University and aim to raise awareness of the risk of extinction of the species and also of saving its habitat.
Image: ©Benny Trapp