A lizard species new to Welgevonden

By Ian Finlay, Nungubane

On 6 March 2016, at Nungubane Lodge, I noticed something small lying in a shadow deep under an overhanging rock. Through binoculars, it seemed to be a lizard of a species I had not seen in Welgevonden before.

It was about 10cm long, dark brown, with a flat back (unlike a plated lizard), and with distinctive spines that gave it a prehistoric appearance. I photographed it, and although the image quality was affected by the low light levels under the rock, it was sufficient to enable Sam Davidson-Phillips, Welgevonden’s Conservation Officer (who has a specialist interest in herpetology) to identify it as a Waterberg girdled lizard, a species not previously recorded in the reserve.

As its name suggests, the Waterberg girdled lizard (Cordylus breyeri) is endemic to the Waterberg region. Unlike Welgevonden’s familiar plated lizards and flat lizards, it lies under rocks on hot days rather than on top of them, which may explain why it is rarely seen. In his book The Bushveld, Lee Gutteridge also mentions that the species is shy and will run if disturbed.

Since their release, the hippos have made their home in and around Rhino Dam moving up to Leopard Dam occasionally. They have become a regular tourist attraction and have relaxed and settled in well.

Waterberg Girdled Lizard.
Photo: Ian Finlay