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Microchips are being fitted on beautiful desert chameleons in an effort to try and stop the illegal trafficking of these amazing creatures.

The six-inch Namaqua chameleons of the Namib desert will soon be able to be scanned just like a barcode in a supermarket. Researchers have been fitting the cute critters with unique ID microchips so that their movements can be tracked and documented.


Chameleons are part of a global trade with roughly 60 000 animals being legally exported for collections and as pets. However within this legal trade, illegally trafficked chameleons are becoming increasingly difficult to find. It isn’t very difficult for poachers to find and catch this species of chameleon and traders are continuing to falsely declare illegally caught Namaqua chameleons as species that are legally for sale.



Unless the poachers are actually caught in the act, the authorities need to prove that this is a wild animal and not one that is legally for ‘sale’ and this is where the microchipping exercise proves invaluable.


Dr Krystal Tolley, of Cape Town’s South African National Biodiversity Institute explains that the tiny metal chip is inserted just under the chameleon’s skin through use of a syringe and does not cause irritation for the creature. The chips will also provide valuable research data into the little-documented behaviour of the species.

A baby Namaqua chameleon is chipped so researchers can keep track of it.
A baby Namaqua chameleon is chipped so researchers can keep track of it.

Original Report: Tara Brady, the Daily Mail

Images Copyright: © Ann and Steve Toon

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