A World of Wonder
Panther chameleon ( Furcifer pardalis)
Analamazaotra Special Reserve, Madagascar
Almost half of the world’s chameleon species live on the island of Madagascar. This is not only the world’s largest population of chameleons, but also the most unique; with 59 species exclusive to Madagascar. Chameleons communicate through colour, expressing, for instance, their willingness to mate. Contrary to popular belief, they can only display a limited number of colours and do not change in order to camouflage with their surroundings. Instead, their hue varies according to temperature, light, and mood. A calm chameleon may become green, whereas an angry one may show up yellow – thanks to complex chemical reactions in their skin. People who can't be trusted are sometimes called chameleons, a reference to this ability to change colour.
A number of Madagascar’s chameleon species are at risk because of degraded habitat or collection for the pet trade.