The conservation status of the Saldanha-Langebaan lizard fauna
The conservation status of relic melanistic lizard species occurring in the Saldanha-Langebaan area has been investigated. A contact zone between one melanistic form and a closely related non-melanistic form has been examined in detail. Apart from melanistic populations of the girdled lizards, Cordylus niger and C. polyzonus, a melanistic morphotype of the Cape legless skink, Acontias meleagris meleagris also occurs in the area. The taxonomic status of this morphotype needs to be investigated. At Mauritz Bay, north of Saldanha, the ranges of C. niger and the non-melanistic C. cordylus are in contact over a distance of approximately 240 m, with maximum overlap of 70 m. The melanistic populations of C. polyzonus and A. m. meleagris have relatively large ranges in the Saldanha-Langebaan area and are not threatened by urban development. The C. niger population, however, is fragmented into several subpopulations, and those in the Saldanha area, including the contact zone, will be affected if urban development is allowed to continue in the area. As relic populations of other cool-adapted, melanistic invertebrate and lower vertebrate species may also occur in the area, the key areas demarcated by C. niger should be preserved.