The last established population of Mediterranean Chameleons in Greece (Chameleo chameleon), still survives until today on the island on Samos. In previous decades this species also survived in Chios and Crete, while today we do not know if there are viable populations of the species on these islands. Chameleons, in most parts of the world where they are found, are recognized and protected as emblematic species. In Greece, however, due to lack of information, we are still ignorant of the species with which we coexist, thus endangering their survival.
The Mediterranean Chameleon is a protected and rare reptile, which is particularly vulnerable to anthropogenic impacts and climate change, as it has a short life cycle which on average is 3 years. Chameleons, in addition to their important role in the ecosystem, they are also very useful for human life as they feed on insects, as they control the populations of insects that affect fruit trees and crops.
Being aware of the rarity of the species and of the responsibility this brings, Archipelagos’ Terrestrial Research team started monitoring the populations of this rare species in Samos island since 2009, combining field research with awareness raising efforts. The aim is to engage the local community in the conservation efforts of the last chameleon population in the Aegean. All the above actions are self-funded by Archipelagos Institute.
It is very important to realize that Aegean Sea islands have been isolated habitats for many centuries, which makes the island biodiversity particularly important, but also particularly vulnerable. For this reason, wildfires, but mainly the excessive use of pesticides are key factors of threat that can be fatal for the last population of Mediterranean chameleon in Greece, but also for many other species.
The biggest problem for the survival of biodiversity in Greece remains the lack of information, knowledge and comprehension of nature. As time runs out, the survival of the Chameleon, like so many other species which are on the brink of survival in Greece, has to do with how effectively and if our catastrophic behaviors will change, so that we give an end to all those lost opportunities for conservation.