Chameleon Research & Conservation Efforts
The Biblical Zoo has conducted extensive genetic research on the local sub-species of chameleons in Israel with a view to assessing the local population and whether it would be viable to breed and reintroduce local species into the wild. The Zoo is also raising awareness of the local challenges faced by these unique animals. Local species of chameleon include the common chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon) and the veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus).
The common chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon) is found throughout Spain and Portugal, the Mediterranean islands, North-Africa, southern Turkey, and many countries throughout the Middle-East. There are two sub-species in Israel – northern and southern. The southern sub-species in threatened by habitat loss, off-road vehicle activity and collection. The species is not currently evaluated under the IUCN redlist but the primary threats to this species are habitat loss by human intervention and capture for the pet trade (both illegal and legal, depending on the country). Sadly, many die of stress or depression upon capture. Because the species is also extremely territorial, habitat loss has caused strain in finding suitable nesting environments since adult males will attack and eat young that intrude on their domains.
The veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus) is a species of chameleon native to the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Other common names include cone-head chameleon and Yemen chameleon. It is the most common chameleon species in the pet trade because it is easy to breed and produces many eggs. Because it tolerates a range of conditions, it survives well in captivity. The Biblical Zoo has also had much success breeding this species.