Exo Terra Cameroon Expedition 2 - Nyassosso & Mount Kupe

Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
This thread is the second on a series of threads outlining the Exo Terra Expedition to Cameroon I recently returned from. The first thread in this series can be found here:

https://www.chameleonforums.com/exo-terra-cameroon-expedition-mount-cameroon-55779/

After our visit to Buea to explore Mount Cameroon, we traveled toward Nyassosso, a remote village in the Southwest Region of Cameroon located at the base of Mount Kupe.

Along the way from Buea to Nyassosso:


Mount Kupe was the target of a WWF conservation/management project. As part of the project, information boards were created at WWF centers and the vicinity:



Unfortunately it appears the project has gone largely dormant, as is evident from the content of these information boards, however there is a boundary that the villagers are not supposed to cross for agricultural and hunting uses.

Nyassosso is located at approximately 900m in elevation. Upon arrival, some of us ventured toward the start of the paths up the mountain to a riparian zone. Here, we found a number of unusual invertebrates:






We also were able to locate a Rhampholeon (Rhampholeon) spectrum (Cameroon Pygmy Chameleon). As you can see, this species is easy to sex as the males are hung like a male C. dilepis:




 

Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
After dark our first night, we hiked up to the local water catchment. Our first finds were a number of Amietophrynus (=Bufo) regularis (African Toads) and a treefrog (identification pending).:






Trioceros montium (Cameroon Mountain Two-horned Chameleons) were fairly common in this area, with pairs even roosting in close proximity:


Finally, we located our only living snake of the trip, a Pink Tree Snake (Toxicoryas sp.):




The next morning, we started our hike up Mount Kupe with the goal of reaching montane forests where we hoped to find Trioceros pfefferi (Pfeffer's Two-horned Chameleon) and Trioceros quadricornis quadricornis (Southern Four-horned Chameleons). Along the way, we passed through the submontane forests where T. montium are found:


By 1100m in elevation, four of the seven of us on the expedition, along with all three porters and one of the two guides, headed back as the hiking was too difficult. The remaining three of use continued on with our remaining guide. By ~1250m in elevation, the vegetation was starting to noticeably change with much more moss occurring. This was the start of the transition into montane forests.

At ~1350m in elevation, the path took a turn none of us were happy to see. Suddenly the path became a 35-40º incline of loose soil and leaf litter. Carrying all of our camera gear, binoculars, water, etc., we were finally able to reach 1600m in elevation. At this location, we agreed that we couldn't keep going as we had run out of water and were all completely exhausted. Here, we each found a place to lay down and rest and we waited for night fall to start our decent:


 
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Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
At dusk, however, we were greeted by a group of about 6 Western Needle-clawed Bushbaby/Galagos (Euoticus elegantulus):


Climbing down, we located three juvenile Trioceros quadricornis quadricornis (Southern Four-horned Chameleons) between 1450-1600m in elevation:











One of these three juvenile T. q. quadricornis had lost its left front leg at some point in its life. Despite this injury, however, it appeared to be coping relatively well:

 
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Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
We also were successful in locating some additional Rhampholeon (Rhampholeon) spectrum (Cameroon Pygmy Chameleons):





Up to this point, however, we had not located any adult Trioceros quadricornis quadricornis or any Trioceros pfefferi, two things we really wanted to locate.

The case of Trioceros pfefferi is actually very interesting. This species was described in 1900 based on a single male specimen that was collected on Mount Kupe. For the next 90+ years, no one had found any additional specimens of this species and no females were known. Some researchers (i.e. Klaver & Böhme, 1992) even suggested that T. pfefferi might be a naturally occurring hybrid between T. quadricornis and T. montium. In 1993, however, the discovery of three additional specimens was published, including the first two known females (Wild, 1993). While we definitely wanted to find this species, we were concerned that we would fail.

Fortunately, at 1425m, I saw a chameleon sleeping on the end of a branch extending out into the open, ~7 meters above the ground. As we prepared to try to get it down, we became more and more convinced it was a male T. pffeferi. Much to our excitement, it was:












As far as the habitat was concerned, we measured temps from 17.6-18.6ºC (63.5-65.5ºF) between 1300-1600m. Humidity was very high, particularly when the clouds were settled into the forest, but the substrate was dry during our visit.

Hope you enjoyed the post and stay tuned for the next installment!

Chris
 

ferretinmyshoes

Veterinarian
Staff member
Okay your entire trip and experience sounds absolutely phenomenal and I would kill to be able to do the same!! But I have to say that your first pic of that snail is my favorite. :) That's an incredible adventure and I'm so glad you were able to see so much!!
 

Ace

Avid Member
Ace<---------envious

wow..i really need to go out in the world and see them myself, and take my own pictures.

the three-legged quad is rather cute, shows how tough they are
 

Cainschams

New Member
The male pfefferi is spectacular!!!! The rest of the specimen are too but that boy sticks out from all of them. Nice pics and thanks for sharing!
 

jannb

Chameleon Enthusiast
Awesome photography as always of some amazing animals. Thank you so much Chris for taking the time to share your trip with us.
 
Fantastic pictures and Journey! I'm jealous!
I'm very happy you were chosen for this trip!
Thank you so much for sharing your pictures and information from this adventure!
 

shanksfaml

Member
Opening your posts, especially this one is like opening a present on the morning of your birthday. Lots of anticipation which, once again was rewarded with amazing pictures and information. Thanks and keep them coming.:)
 

Ricardo

New Member
Absolutely fantastic! The pictures and the entire trip too, i would love to gon on a trip like this sometimes! By the way can somebody get involved in a trip like this or can someone volunteer or something? :)
 

laurie

Retired Moderator
Chris is it just the phenomenal cameras or are the chameleons really that much more colorful and vibrant in the wild? Even the snake was beautiful. I have never seen the colors on my quads that you were able to capture. Fantastic pictures, thanks.
 
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