Highland reptiles of Angola and Namibia


  • AM Bauer Department of Biology and Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Stewardship, Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania, USA
  • LMP Ceríaco Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Museu Nacional, Departamento de Vertebrados, Quinta da Boa Vista, São Cristóvão, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • MP Marques Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, USA; CIBIO (Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos) InBIO Laboratório Associado, Campus de Vairão, Universidade do Porto, Vairão, Portugal; BIOPOLIS Programme in Genomics, Biodiversity and Land Planning, CIBIO, Campus de Vairão, Vairão, Portugal; Departamento de Biologia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal
  • FS Becker National Museum of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia


Angola, diversity, endemism, highlands, Namibia, reptiles


Approximately 238 species of reptiles are found in the highlands and escarpments of Angola and Namibia (HEAN). Of the 430 species present in the two countries in total, 46 are strictly endemic (or nearly so) to the HEAN and another 16 have extensive portions of their ranges in these areas. Geckos constitute the majority of HEAN endemics with 32 species; in addition, there are nine cordylids, six skinks, four lacertids and one chamaeleon, as well as nine snakes (in five families) and a single tortoise comprising the remainder. Many of these species are substrate specialists and therefore rock types and textures may be a more important determinant of their distributions than elevation per se. Reptile diversity is greatest in the larger highland areas of the Khomas Hochland and Angolan Planalto, but many areas support at least some regional highland endemics including the Marginal Mountain Chain and Central Escarpment, and the Serra do Môco and the Serra da Neve in Angola, and the Karasberge, Waterberg and the Otavi, Erongo, Numib, Tiras, Baynes and Otjihipa mountains as well as numerous inselberg clusters (e.g., Huns–Orange and Huab outliers) in Namibia. The vast majority of the highland taxa have been assessed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with several taxa considered Data Deficient or Near Threatened and only three Vulnerable. Most highland and escarpment areas in Angola and Namibia remain woefully understudied from a herpetological perspective and the description of 20% of the endemics in the last ten years suggests that true reptile diversity remains underestimated.