Nadzikambia mlanjensis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Chamaeleonidae

Scientific Name: Nadzikambia mlanjensis (Broadley, 1965)
Common Name(s):
English Mulanje Chameleon
Chamaeleo mlanjense Broadley, 1965
Nadzikambia mlanjense (Broadley, 1965) [orth. error]
Taxonomic Notes: Accepted as Nadzikambia mlanjensis in Tilbury et al. (2006, 2007). Populations of chameleons on nearby mountains in Mozambique do not represent this taxon (Branch and Tolley 2010).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(i,ii,iii,v)+2ab(i,ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2013-08-26
Assessor(s): Tolley, K.
Reviewer(s): Bowles, P.
Contributor(s): Anderson, C.V., Bayliss, J. & Tilbury, C.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Tolley, K. & Jenkins, R.K.B.
Nadzikambia mlanjensis is considered Endangered because it has a small AOO and the threats to the montane forest habitat are tangible. It is estimated that up to a half of its habitat has already been lost, or is degraded. Therefore the population is inferred to have substantial undergone declines, is presently severely fragmented, the number of threat locations probably less than 5, and threats are ongoing. There is concern that if the threats continue or escalate, the species will be subject to additional declines through further loss and fragmentation of habitat.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

This species is endemic to Mount Mulanje, Malawi and is found in the remaining evergreen forest fragments on moist southern and eastern facing slopes at mid altitude, and in the forest at high altitude on the Lichenya plateau (Tilbury 2010, Tilbury et al. 2006). A population may exist on the immediately adjacent small inselberg Mt. Mchese (< 5km to the north of Mulanje), but this has not been confirmed (Tilbury 2010). Tilbury (2010) also suggested that neighbouring large Mozambican inselbergs might contain additional populations of N. mlanjensis, but most of these mountains have not been surveyed. However, the discovery of a new species N. baylissi on one of the closest (ca. 60 km) Mozambican inselbergs, Mt. Mabu (Branch and Tolley 2010, Bayliss et al. 2014), instead suggests that a model of one species per mountain is more likely. Therefore, the best information to date suggests N. mlanjensis is endemic to Mulanje. Although the entire massif covers 650 km2, the evergreen forest is found in remnant fragmented patches, totalling ca. 61 km2.  The original evergreen forest habitat has been substantially reduced in size and the remaining forest heavily impacted (Dowsett-Lemaire 1988, Bayliss et al. 2007). The transformed habitat that remains is thought to be unsuitable for this species. Although the evergreen forest once extended down to 650 m elevation, the area up to 900 m elevation is totally transformed by commercial and subsistence agriculture (Dowsett-Lemaire 1988). In recent times, the chameleon has only been recorded between 1100 m up to ca. 1900 m (Lichenya hut).

Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:61Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:220
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):YesExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:5Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:UnknownLower elevation limit (metres):1100
Upper elevation limit (metres):1900
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There is no information on the abundance of this species, but as a restricted-range species with limited suitable habitat within this area, the overall population size is unlikely to be large at present. Furthermore, the species has probably undergone population declines due to the transformation of a large portion of the habitat on Mt. Mulanje. The forest has been heavily impacted by resource utilization (logging), invasive species, and conversion of landscape for subsistence and commercial agriculture. Rough estimates range from half to a third of original forest having been lost, particularly at low altitudes (Dowsett-Lemaire 1988), suggesting the past population decline was of a similar magnitude. Population decline at present should be somewhat mitigated as most of this habitat loss was prior to the 1990s.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is endemic to Mt. Mulanje, Malawi (Tilbury 2010, Tilbury et al. 2006). Given the observations of this chameleon, it is thought to occur in mid- and high altitude forest types, on the south and east facing slopes of the mountain, but low altitude forest (650-900 m elevation) was transformed early (prior to 1970s), and it is not known if the species ever would have occurred there. It is not known to tolerate altered habitats.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

No annual CITES export quotas for N. mlanjensis have been issued between 2000 and 2013 (CITES 2013) and there is no reported trade in this species between 1977 and 2011 (2012 and 2013 trade data are incomplete or unavailable) (UNEP-WCMC 2013). This species is not known to be present in the captive market.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There is substantial pressure on the evergreen forest, which is a threat to this species. Pressure on natural resources in this heavily-populated region has resulted in encroachment on the indigenous forest on Mt. Mulanje due to burning practices, fuelwood collection, illegal logging, unsustainable hunting, the potential threat of bauxite extraction, and conversion of the landscape for subsistence and commercial agriculture (Dowsett-Lemaire 1988, Bayliss et al. 2007). The forest is also impacted by invasive pines, which were originally planted for utilization, but have now taken over parts of the plateau (Bayliss et al. 2007). The forest has been formally protected as a Forest Reserve since 1927, which has limited large-scale land clearance for agriculture, but encroachment, resource utilization and small scale commercial timer extraction is ongoing. The Reserve boundaries were modified several times up until 1971 to accommodate this encroachment (Dowsett-Lemaire 1988). The ecological integrity of the forest is also impacted through illegal extraction of the endemic Mulanje Cedar (Widdringtonia whytei) and the use of fire to clear and kill the Mulanje Cedar trees. In 1988, aerial photography showed that the mid and high altitude forest extent was 61 km2, and that already represented approximately a third to half reduction in total forest size since the 1970s (Dowsett-Lemaire 1988). The rate of loss has been mitigated through stronger protection, but the threats are still active.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

The entire distribution of this species is within the Mulanje Forest Reserve, and the more recently established Mt. Mulanje Biosphere Reserve. The mountain is under the stewardship of the action based organisation, the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT). The MMCT implemented the Mulanje Mt. Biodiversity Conservation Project (2002-2012) in part to preserve the biodiversity and ecosystems of the mountain (Wisborg and Jumbe 2010). Objectives included eradication of invasive alien species, rehabilitation of indigenous forest particularly for the endangered Mulanje cedar, and law enforcement. Despite these conservation targets, the extent of forest is declining annually and it is unknown whether conservation actions (maintaining fire breaks to protect the forest, and patrols to guard against illegal activities) are halting this decline. Strong actions are required to prevent the illegal harvesting of Mulanje Cedar, which causes substantial ecosystem degradation, and could include a stricter patrolling regime with harsher penalties for poaching wood to curb the harvesting. Essentially, law enforcement for the prevention of illegal activities is not effective (Wisborg and Jumbe 2010), and therefore the forest is not protected in practice. The result is that Nadzikambia mlanjensis is still under threat due to continued habitat loss and degradation, and it is likely undergo reductions in its area of occupancy as a result of these impacts on its habitat.

Citation: Tolley, K. 2014. Nadzikambia mlanjensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T172530A1344413. . Downloaded on 22 September 2018.
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