In 1996 three chameleon species, Furcifer campani, F. labordi, and F. minor, were classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN, based on a 20% population decline in 10 years, or three generations. A fourth species, Brookesia perarmata, was classified as Vulnerable for this reason and also because they occupy an area of less than 39 sq mi (100 sq km) and fewer than five locations. All chameleons in the genera Bradypodion, Calumma, Chamaeleo, and Furcifer are listed on CITES Appendix II, indicating that they are threatened with extinction unless commercial trade is tightly controlled. A moratorium on importation for commercial trade of all but four species of chameleons (F. pardalis, F. lateralis, F. oustaleti, and F. verrucosus) from Madagascar was imposed by CITES in 1995, owing to escalating levels of trade and concerns that extinction might result. This moratorium remained in effect in 2002. Although Brookesia perarmata is included on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable, no members of the genera Brookesia or Rhampholeon received formal protection from CITES to prevent unsustainable commercial trade as of 2002.
The main threats to chameleons are ongoing loss, modification, and fragmentation of acceptable habitat and collec tion for the legal and illegal commercial pet trade. When the extent of occurrence is small, the number of known sites is few, the distribution structure is fragmented, and the species is a specialist within a declining habitat, the risk of extinction is high. This paradigm is applicable to numerous species of chameleons worldwide. The majority of chameleon species have not survived or reproduced in captivity and should not be considered candidates for captive breeding projects aimed at preservation of the species. Habitat preservation and conservation management in the wild for these vulnerable species are critical to preventing future extinction.
Was this article helpful?