Exo Terra Cameroon Expedition 4 - Mount Oku

Chris Anderson

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

https://www.chameleonforums.com/exo-terra-cameroon-expedition-mount-cameroon-55779/
https://www.chameleonforums.com/exo-terra-cameroon-expedition-2-nyassosso-mount-kupe-56261/
https://www.chameleonforums.com/exo-terra-cameroon-expedition-3-mount-manengouba-56644/

After spending the first part of our trip in the Southwest Region of Cameroon, we left Bangem and headed toward the Northwest Region where we hoped to locate a couple different species from this area. We stopped for the night in Dschang where we discussed our plans for the rest of the trip.

We all were somewhat disappointed in being unsuccessful finding adult Trioceros quadricornis quadricornis in the Southwest Region. At this point in the trip we were supposed to leave Dschang the next day and go to Mount Bambutos where we were to spend a few days. Following Mount Bambutos, we were scheduled to proceed on to and spend a few days on Mount Oku before returning to Douala to return to Europe and the US. Unfortunately we had been told that Mount Bambutos was heavily deforested and in the absence of specific, current locale data on the chameleons from this mountain, we were concerned we would waste a lot of time trying to find specimens there. We further realized that the species on Mount Bambutos that we hoped to find were also located on Mount Oku, where we were told we should have no problem finding specimens. With this information, we decided to skip Mount Bambutos and continue immediately on to Mount Oku so that we could return to the Southwest Region in the hopes of still being able to find adult Trioceros quadricornis quadricornis before leaving.

The next morning we drove to the town of Kumbo and the day after that, to Oku Village on Mount Oku. In Oku Village, we visited the chief to arrange to visit one of their sacred forests to look for chameleons. The chief's palace was adorned with a nice mural that included a chameleon:

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On the way to the village's sacred forest at approximately 2200m in elevation we located six Trioceros serratus (Central Peacock Chameleons), a species previous referred to as Trioceros wiedersheimi wiederheimi, in the hedges and bushes in the village and a number of additional specimens along the forest edge.

After entering the sacred forest, we were pleased to locate four Trioceros quadricornis gracilior (Northern Four-horned Chameleons), including a very large, old male that had lost the horns on one side of his rostrum.

We weren't able to stay after dark to look for additional specimens the first night because the villagers said they had to get the god's permission for us to visit after dark so we returned to our hotel hoping to be able to visit the sacred forest the next night. That night around out hotel we were able to locate ten additional T. serratus and two T. q. gracilior. I was surprised to find T. q. gracilior in the village as they are typically associated with primary forest but they appear to occur in this degraded habitat in low concentrations.

The next day we were able to return to the sacred forest for dark. In the afternoon we located three additional T. serratus and another T. q. gracilior. After dark, we hiked around for an hour or so and located four more T. q. gracilior and two more T. serratus.

Trioceros serratus:
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Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
T. q. gracilior cont:
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The male T. q. gracilior had between 2-3 pairs of annulated horns with most exhibiting 3 pairs. These horns were quite long compared to the nominate subspecies we typically see in captivity and their sail fin at the base of their tail is shorter than in the nominate subspecies. Interestingly, all the T. q. gracilior from Mount Oku appeared to have striking red nails.
 

Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
On the way out of Oku Village, we stopped by Oku Crater Lake with some slight car troubles. Here we found T. serratus out in the open, even crossing the road. Crossing the road at the heat of the day, the temperature reached as high as 29.6ºC (85ºF) while at night in the sacred forest, temps were as low as 15.6ºC (60ºF).

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

Chris
 

jannb

Chameleon Enthusiast
Amazing pictures and story Chris. I must say that most of the pictures you've posted the animals all seem so heathy for being in the wild. I guess I've just always pictured them as looking like the WC's people sell at the shows. :eek:

The close of picture of the horns on the T. q. gracilior looks like that guy might be going to have 6 horns???? How many horns are normal?
 

Dave Weldon

Avid Member
...Here we found T. serratus out in the open, even crossing the road. Crossing the road at the heat of the day...
Howdy Chris,

I was hoping your research would finally answer the age-old question: "Why did the chameleon cross the road?" :rolleyes:

Great Photos! It's neat to "see the forest for the trees" once in a while to put it all into perspective.
 

jack29

Member
Fantastic animals that you found!! i can't envyi you more than this!! :)
In your travel did you find also T. wiedersheimi or just T. perreti and T. serratus? and what about the other cameroon species like camerunensis, cristatus, eisentrauti and feae?
 

Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
Amazing pictures and story Chris. I must say that most of the pictures you've posted the animals all seem so heathy for being in the wild. I guess I've just always pictured them as looking like the WC's people sell at the shows. :eek:

The close of picture of the horns on the T. q. gracilior looks like that guy might be going to have 6 horns???? How many horns are normal?

Actually most chameleons you see in the wild are very healthy. The reason a lot of us might expect otherwise is because we see them after they've gone through the importation process, which takes a considerable tole on their health.

Both T. q. quadricornis and T. q. gracilior can have 2-6 annulated horns (1-3 pairs). It appears to be most typical to see 2-4 horns in T. q. quadricornis and 4-6 in T. q. gracilior but most of the T. q. gracilior specimens we saw had 6 horns.

Fantastic animals that you found!! i can't envyi you more than this!! :)
In your travel did you find also T. wiedersheimi or just T. perreti and T. serratus? and what about the other cameroon species like camerunensis, cristatus, eisentrauti and feae?

Unfortunately T. wiedersheimi are known only from Tchabal Mbabo and Tchabal Gangdaba, which is quite a bit further North than we were. We wanted to get into this area but it is very remote and it would have taken us quite a few days, as well as another flight, just to get in to that area and of course the same amount of time to get out, so it just wasn't feasible for all of our first trip to the area. Hopefully we'll be able to get back there though and try to access this area.

As for the other species, T. feae does not occur in Cameroon, it lives on Bioko, which is part of Equatorial Guinea. We concentrated our time in the higher elevations and didn't get into lowland forests to look for T. cristatus and T. camerunensis. In order to get to T. q. eisentrauti habitat we probably would have had to have skipped the Northwest Region (and with it T. serratus and T. q. gracilior) and since this species is extremely difficult to find, while we all would have loved to see them, we decided it made more sense to go to the Northwest Region for our first trip. Next time I think I'll definitely try to get to these places as well, but it just wasn't all possible in the amount of time we had.

Thanks everyone for the comments! Glad you are enjoying the pics!

Chris
 

jack29

Member
Unfortunately T. wiedersheimi are known only from Tchabal Mbabo and Tchabal Gangdaba, which is quite a bit further North than we were. We wanted to get into this area but it is very remote and it would have taken us quite a few days, as well as another flight, just to get in to that area and of course the same amount of time to get out, so it just wasn't feasible for all of our first trip to the area. Hopefully we'll be able to get back there though and try to access this area.

As for the other species, T. feae does not occur in Cameroon, it lives on Bioko, which is part of Equatorial Guinea. We concentrated our time in the higher elevations and didn't get into lowland forests to look for T. cristatus and T. camerunensis. In order to get to T. q. eisentrauti habitat we probably would have had to have skipped the Northwest Region (and with it T. serratus and T. q. gracilior) and since this species is extremely difficult to find, while we all would have loved to see them, we decided it made more sense to go to the Northwest Region for our first trip. Next time I think I'll definitely try to get to these places as well, but it just wasn't all possible in the amount of time we had.

Thanks Chris for your explanation, it's really clear.. remember me when you'll start to organize the next expedition there!! i'm serious!! :D
 
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