30 Knysna dwarf chameleons released back into the wild

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 26 September 2018

It’s just over a year since the Knysna fires raged, in June 2017, devasting homes and sections of the indigenous forest. Besides the impact on people in the area, there was also a negative effect on creatures, such as the little Knysna dwarf chameleon. This endemic species is slow-moving and many of them would have been caught in the fire.

Aldo Kleyn, a Knysna resident, has rescued some of these endearing reptiles and has set up a chameleon-breeding project for the second time. He was breeding Knysna dwarf chameleons before 2017, but he lost his home and 17 breeding pairs in the fires.

The sanctuary has been rebuilt and recently Aldo made his way to the Big Tree in Knysna and released 27 young chameleons, along with 3 adults that had been rescued from the fire and rehabilitated, back into the forest.

Also read: Soaking up Knysna’s return to Bounty

Juvenile Knysna dwarf chameleon Image credit: Knysna Dwarf Chameleon Facebook page

Knysna dwarf chameleon with Knysna HEad’s in the background. Image credit: Knysna Dwarf Chameleon Facebook page


Aldo posted the following on the Knysna Dwarf Chameleon Facebook page on 13 September 2018.

‘Hi everyone today we went to the big tree in the Knysna forest and are happy to say we released the 27 babies from last season back into the forest as they are now old enough to be able to take care of themselves in the jungle.

It was quite an emotional affair as you can imagine… we’ve come a long way since birth. Just hope they’ll all be ok and have a healthy long life ahead… and we also released three of the rehabilitated fire victims that have recovered remarkably well in the past year.
Straight from the heart, to the future generations of our beautiful planet.’

One of the young Knysna dwarf chameleons released back into the Knysna forest. Image credit: Knysna Dwarf Chameleon Facebook page.


Besides the forest, in Knysna ‘these little creatures make use of about seven gardens as their home territory. For this reason, the team is encouraging residents to set up chameleon corridors, whereby an entire row of houses commits to keeping their gardens chameleon friendly. These wildlife corridors prove especially vital on the urban edge, allowing chameleons to move safely from the gardens to the indigenous forest and back again,’ according to Africa Geographic.


Below is a photo from Bay Leaf Café in George, about 60km from Knysna (where these dwarf chameleons are also found) that displays this chameleon-friendly sign in the restaurant’s garden, encouraging visitors to be on a lookout for the little guys.

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