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 Post subject: Exo Terra Cameroon Expedition pt 2 - Mount Kupe
PostPosted: May 22nd, 2011, 4:13 pm 

Joined: May 17th, 2011, 7:20 pm
Posts: 9
Location: Tampa, FL, USA
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:

http://www.fieldherpforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6252

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:
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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:
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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:
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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 chameleon five times their size:
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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 (possibly a Hyperolius sp.).:
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Trioceros montium (Cameroon Mountain Two-horned Chameleons) were fairly common in this area, with pairs even roosting in close proximity:
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Finally, we located our only living snake of the trip, a Pink Tree Snake (Toxicoryas pulverulenta):
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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:
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By 1100m in elevation, three 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 four 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 were low on 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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At dusk, however, we were greeted by a group of about 6 Western Needle-clawed Bushbaby/Galagos (Euoticus elegantulus):
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Climbing down, we located three juvenile Trioceros quadricornis quadricornis (Southern Four-horned Chameleons) between 1450-1600m in elevation:
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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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We also were successful in locating some additional Rhampholeon (Rhampholeon) spectrum (Cameroon Pygmy Chameleons):
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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:
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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


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 Post subject: Re: Exo Terra Cameroon Expedition pt 2 - Mount Kupe
PostPosted: May 23rd, 2011, 2:42 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:07 pm
Posts: 590
Location: Hillsdale County, Michigan
This series is just getting better. I liked the bushbaby a lot. So that was the 5th ever Trioceros pfefferi? Excellent find!


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 Post subject: Re: Exo Terra Cameroon Expedition pt 2 - Mount Kupe
PostPosted: May 23rd, 2011, 4:38 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 7:11 am
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Location: Lake Worth, FL
I'm with Curtis, that T. pfefferi is sweet.


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 Post subject: Re: Exo Terra Cameroon Expedition pt 2 - Mount Kupe
PostPosted: May 23rd, 2011, 9:27 am 

Joined: May 17th, 2011, 7:20 pm
Posts: 9
Location: Tampa, FL, USA
Since the species was rediscovered in 1993, they've found additional T. pfefferi populations and the species has even made it into the pet trade a few times. I referenced the backstory on them mainly to illustrate the point that they can be a challenge to find and because I think its an interesting story. They definitely were a highlight of the trip for me.

Chris


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 Post subject: Re: Exo Terra Cameroon Expedition pt 2 - Mount Kupe
PostPosted: May 28th, 2011, 3:13 pm 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 6:56 pm
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Location: Wittmann,AZ
Keep these coming Chris... great stuff!

Dave


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 Post subject: Re: Exo Terra Cameroon Expedition pt 2 - Mount Kupe
PostPosted: May 28th, 2011, 9:53 pm 
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Joined: May 25th, 2011, 10:13 pm
Posts: 116
Location: OKlahoma
Such a nice post!~~~~ Sweet chameleons


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 Post subject: Re: Exo Terra Cameroon Expedition pt 2 - Mount Kupe
PostPosted: May 28th, 2011, 11:33 pm 
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Joined: June 16th, 2010, 12:26 pm
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Fantastic, Christopher! Those are excellent photos from such an interesting place. That snail reminds me a little of some of the hats from west Africa.

Regards,
David


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 Post subject: Re: Exo Terra Cameroon Expedition pt 2 - Mount Kupe
PostPosted: June 17th, 2011, 4:08 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
When you put up this post, I was a bit busy, so bookmarked it (on my desktop, no less), to enjoy it later. Glad I did! What an amazing series. Is there a part 3?


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 Post subject: Re: Exo Terra Cameroon Expedition pt 2 - Mount Kupe
PostPosted: June 17th, 2011, 9:22 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:45 am
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Location: One of the boys from Illinois
excellent! great herping adventure.
-Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Exo Terra Cameroon Expedition pt 2 - Mount Kupe
PostPosted: June 17th, 2011, 6:14 pm 
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Joined: July 20th, 2010, 4:49 pm
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Location: Central MD/Big Sur, CA
drop dead gorgeous


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 Post subject: Re: Exo Terra Cameroon Expedition pt 2 - Mount Kupe
PostPosted: July 17th, 2011, 3:23 pm 

Joined: May 17th, 2011, 7:20 pm
Posts: 9
Location: Tampa, FL, USA
Hans Breuer (twoton) wrote:
Is there a part 3?


There is now ( viewtopic.php?f=2&t=7254 ) and eventually there will be a part 4 & 5 as well.

Glad you all enjoyed the pics!

Chris


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 Post subject: Re: Exo Terra Cameroon Expedition pt 2 - Mount Kupe
PostPosted: July 18th, 2011, 10:18 am 
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Joined: May 22nd, 2011, 5:38 pm
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Location: San Benito, TX
Somebody better role out the red carpet because this post just won an oscar!

-MS


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