Finally another conference! From 20 to 22 May 2022, the meeting of the AG Chamäleons took place in the tranquil town of BoppardamRhein. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 and 2021 meetings were cancelled – so it was all the nicer to see old and new chameleon friends again after such a long time. On Friday evening, they met for a cosy get-together at the former “Pizza Toni”, which is now run in Croatian and called “Albano“.
On Saturday, the conference started with an interesting presentation on various diseases in chameleons by Svea Brüne. To give a lecture at the age of 17 was praised by the AG, especially in times of a lack of young people in the field of herpetoculture. Afterwards, chameleon veteran Wolfgang Schmidt presented his experiences from many decades of successful keeping of leaf and pygmy chameleons. From Brookesia stumpffi to species of the minima clade to Rieppeleon brevicaudatus, Wolfgang has already kept an enormous variety of smaller species and was able to report which of them were good or more complicated to breed in the past and what he had noticed in particular, for example physiologically occurring white spots in the head area after hatching. After the lunch break, we continued with a travel report, also by Wolfgang Schmidt, on the African Chameleon in Greece. After the Chamaeleo africanus project in Gialova Bay collapsed a few years ago, the development of the area for tourists has progressed rapidly in recent years with the construction of another huge hotel. Nevertheless, Wolfgang was able to show that the future of Chamaeleo africanus in Greece does not seem to be nearly as endangered as originally assumed. Together with his wife, he was able to find several more areas where the animals occur in larger numbers. However, as is often the case with these chameleons, you have to be in the right place at the right time to find them!
This exciting update was followed by the elections of the new leadership team. DavidHellendrung, who had successfully led the AG Chamäleons since 2015, was unfortunately no longer available for the position for professional reasons. Alexandra Laube was unanimously elected as the new spokesperson of the AG. Jan-Benedict Glaw was re-elected as literature and internet professional, Tim Vierbücher as treasurer. Likewise, the long-time, tireless helpers Anne Stemper and Monique Bartsch were confirmed in their positions as assessors. Benjamin Ludwig was also appointed as an assessor and Svea Brüne as social media officer to complete the leadership team. DGHT President Markus Monzel congratulated the new management team on behalf of the DGHT and looked forward to good cooperation.
Late on Saturday afternoon, Falks Eckhardt’s lecture on the short-lived Furcifer labordi from Madagascar followed. It has just been proven that this colourful species is extremely dependent on the climate in southwest Madagascar. It could become a loser of climate change in the future if rainy seasons shorten and no longer provide enough time for the extremely fast life cycle from hatching to reproduction within a few months. In the photocompetition, a beautiful photo of a Furcifer timoni from the Amber Mountain in Madagascar by Markus Bartels was chosen as the winner. He received a voucher from Chimaira as well as one of the beautiful conference collection mugs designed by Caro Vierbücher, which change chameleon species every year – depending on the winning motif of the previous year’s photo competition. Second place went to Martin Knauf with two photos of Furcifer voeltzkowi from Katsepy and Furcifer pardalis from Ankify, for which he received a voucher from “der Terraristikladen“. At the end of the day, Falk Eckhardt presented facts, figures and considerations on importing chameleons, which were very lively discussed afterwards.
Sunday started early with a great talk by herpetologist Dr.FrankGlaw, who showed the development of chameleon research on Madagascar from the 17th century until today. Frank also presented several highlights from his own research, such as the rediscovery of the Voeltzkov’s chameleon in 2018, which was even shared by Leonardo di Caprio on Instagram. Special highlights also included the groundbreaking discoveries of the world’s smallest chameleons, including Brookesia micra in 2012 and, a few years later, an even smaller terrestrial chameleon, Brookesia nana in 2021. DavidSuryantoKasih then followed with a practical, very interesting talk on different ways to create living terrarium grounds. The last lecture of the 2022 meeting was given by AlexandraLaube with a brand-new travelogue from Madagascar about camping with chameleons post-Corona.
A big thank you goes to all the speakers for their interesting and varied contributions and, of course, to all the helpers in the background who made the conference a success. Special thanks to David Hellendrung as the previous speaker of the AG – we will certainly ask you again for one or the other lecture! And finally, we would like to thank the DGHT policy advisor, Peter Sound, and the town of Boppard, who have provided uncomplicated accommodation for the AG Chameleons conference for 20 years. We are already looking forward to next year!