A new Agama species has been discovered in Northern Kenya, known as Agama Wachirae.
It was named after the prominent Kenyan ornithologist Washington Wachira, who observed and photographed it, at Bubisa, North of Marsabit, and sent us the pictures. It is a member of the Agama lionotus complex.
A report done by a group of professionals, PATRICK K. MALONZA1, STEPHEN SPAWLS2, BRIAN FINCH3 & AARON M. BAUER4*gave detailed documents describing the uniqueness of this species. Below are quotes from the Doc.
”Kenya has a high diversity of agamid lizards and the arid northern frontier area has the highest species richness. Among the Kenyan agama species, Agama lionotus has the widest distribution, occurring from sea level to inland areas in both dry and moist savanna as well as desert areas.
This species mostly prefers rocky areas, both in granitic/metamorphic and volcanic rocks, although it also makes use of tree crevices as well as man-made structures. Recently in Marsabit, northern Kenya, a small-sized agama species, distinct from A. lionotus, was collected within a rocky lava desert area.
This new species is characterized by its small size (mean SVL ~83 mm) as compared to typical A. lionotus (mean SVL ~120 mm). Past studies have shown the value of adult male throat coloration for the identification of species within the A. lionotus complex. Herein we also highlight the female dorsal color pattern, which is a key character for distinguishing the new species from others in the group, including the similar A. hulbertorum. As in A. lionotus, displaying adult males have an orange to yellow head, a vertebral stripe, a bluish body coloration, and an annulated white/blue tail.”
This is an arid land species inhabiting xeric to desert environments. In Marsabit, suitable areas for this species especially those with lava rocks within treeless habitat occur
from north of Laisamis sporadically northward through Bubisa and the Dida Galgalu Desert to Forolle Hill and even the Hurri Hills.
A November 2013 photograph of a male by Yvonne De Jong from Forolle Hill (3.72319, 37.97768; 949 m) on the Kenya-Ethiopia border matches the description of this species. At that time PKM told her the species was not Agama lionotus, but we had no specimens for comparison.
In May 2016 Darcy Ogada photographed males and females within the Forolle Conservancy (Figs. 4, 5). Another photograph (perhaps taken in 2004) by Tomas Mazuch was of a female from the base of Mt. Nyiru at South Horr. This means the species should occur sporadically in suitable micro-habitats in the northern frontier and even southern Ethiopia.
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