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Malawi 2015 Part V: Ntchisi Forest Reserve

This is already my last report about Malawi. I had seen great things so far. Mount Mulanje and Liwonde National Park were the highlights of the trip so far. Dieuwertje and Jasper had been to Ntchisi Forest Reserve two weeks earlier. They already found a Nchisi Pygmy Chameleon (Rhampholeon nchisiensis) which was our main (reptile) target species. They also found some snakes, which made me very hopeful and looking forward to this location.

On the way from Cape Maclear to Ntchisi Forest Reserve we had good tarmac roads, but the last part was roads with just red sand. On one of the roads Dieuwertje used her hawk eyes again. She spotted a Flap-necked Chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis) next to the road from a moving car. It was in the middle of the day, so the light was a bit harsh.

Flap-necked Chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis) Flap-necked Chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis) Flap-necked Chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis)

First night out
On the first night out we started to look for the Nchisi Pygmy Chameleon (Rhampholeon nchisiensis). It was a successful night, because we found more than one specimen. I photographed only one of them.

Nchisi Pygmy Chameleon (Rhampholeon nchisiensis)

Searching by day
Dieuwertje and Jasper found a night adder sp. and a cobra sp. so we were very hopeful to find reptiles during the day. The weather was not our friend. It was windy, cold, and cloudy most of the time. I just found a group of Rainbow skinks (Trachylepis margaritifera) basking together on a big rock.
The conditions were far from optimal. African winters are not the best time to find reptiles and amphibians. I think that Ntchisi Forest Reserve might be a great place during the wet season.
Rainbow skink (Trachylepis margaritifera) Rainbow skink (Trachylepis margaritifera)

My first pygmy chameleons
This was the first night I got the taste of finding chameleons by night. Bobby found all Mulanje Pygmy Chameleons (Rhampholeon platyceps) and Nchisi Pygmy Chameleons (Rhampholeon nchisiensis) so far. This night I started ti find them too.
One of them had something on his mouth. Also on the flanks there was something that looks like a fungus.

Nchisi Pygmy Chameleon (Rhampholeon nchisiensis)

Nchisi Pygmy Chameleon (Rhampholeon nchisiensis)

Looking for reptiles
The next day we were also looking for reptiles. We saw beautiful habitats, but all we found was the same chameleon as the night before and Cape Dwarf Geckos (Lygodactylus capensis) on some dead trees.

Nchisi Pygmy Chameleon (Rhampholeon nchisiensis) Cape Dwarf Gecko (Lygodactylus capensis)

Big and small
The previous night I found my first Nchisi Pygmy Chameleon and some more. This third night I really got the hang of it. I found many chameleons and also the most special specimen. I found the biggest and the smallest Nchisi Pygmy Chameleon. The baby chameleon was about the size of a bean. It was smaller than the finger tip of Bobby’s index finger. I saw this small chameleon from ten meters away and with the size of the chameleon that is something close to a miracle. I think I should wear my glasses every time I search for animals.

Nchisi Pygmy Chameleon (Rhampholeon nchisiensis) Nchisi Pygmy Chameleon (Rhampholeon nchisiensis)

After finding the smallest I found the biggest. This big one was also a very beautiful specimen. It was also the last one of the night.

Nchisi Pygmy Chameleon (Rhampholeon nchisiensis) Nchisi Pygmy Chameleon (Rhampholeon nchisiensis)

Behind the camera
The conditions to find reptiles and amphibians were not so good. Everything was dry, windy and not very warm. We made the best of it by having fun sometimes.

NtchisiBehindTheCamera

Bye Malawi
This was my last report about Malawi for now. My next report will be about South Luangwa in Zambia.
Malawi is called ‘The Warm Heart Of Africa’ and I have to agree on this. The people are really kind and helpful, and not running after you all the time. They also respect a ‘no’.
Nature that is still left is very beautiful. I hope that Malawi manage to protect their natural beauty, because what is left is small and under great pressure.
If you want a great ‘Africa experience’, visit Malawi!

If you do not want to miss my next report about Zambia you can follow me on social media. My next report will be about South Luangwa in Zambia. The links to my Facebook Page and other social media are at the bottom of this page.

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© 2017 Nature & Wildlife Photography by Ronald Zimmerman

Thema door Anders Norén