Cape Reptile Institute


Port Nolloth
Northern Cape Province

Map of Port Nolloth, Northern Cape Province.
(click on map to enlarge)


Port Nolloth, Northern Cape Province.


Port Nolloth was the main reason for our party coming to Northern Cape Province. The sand dunes and open scrub-desert to north and south of the small coastal town 89kms northwest of Springbok, are the habitat of the Namaqua dwarf adder (Bitis schneideri), one of the species being studied as part of Tony Phelps' threatened adder project.




Port Nolloth at dawn. Unloading the herpers at dawn.

We made several day trips from Springbok to Port Nolloth, arriving before dawn to enable us to herp before the sun got too high and the day became too hot. In the early morning it was extremely cold at Port Nolloth, a bitter wind coming in off the Benguela Current as it heads north from the South Atlantic.

The cold Benguela Current striking the coastline.

The coastal habitat comprises sand dunes and flats with clumps of low salt-tolerant xerophytic vegetation. Our search method consisted of close-examination of the roots of these clumps for secretive reptiles. We did not find any Namaqua dwarf adders and discussions with locals led us to believe they were being illegally collected for reptile keepers. All reptiles we found were photographed and replaced.

Exposed Atlantic coastal habitat.

Sunset at Port Nolloth.

The only gecko we found was Austen's thick-toed gecko (Pachydactylus austeni) but lacetids were more common, if difficult to approach.

Austen's thick-toed gecko, Pachydactylus austeni

Smith's desert lizard (Meroles ctenodactylus) was extremely alert and difficult to approach although it was possible to capture specimens of Knox's desert lizard (M.knoxii) and the Namaqua sand lizard (Pedioplanis namaquensis).

Smith's desert lizard, Meroles ctenodactylus


Knox's desert lizard, Meroles knoxii


Namaqua sand lizard, Pedioplanis namaquensis

Although skinks with legs, Western variegated skink (Trachylepis punctulata) were present, legless dart skinks were more common, in the roots of the coastal vegetation where three or more could be found in a single clump, ie. the Little Namaqualand striped dart skink (Microacontias lineatus tristis) and two colour phases of the Coastal dark skink (M.litoralis)

Western variegated skink, Trachylepis punctulata


Little Namaqualand striped dart skink, Microacontias lineatus tristis


Coastal dart skink, Microacontias litoralis
orange phase
Coastal dart skink, Microacontias litoralis
bicolour phase

Also found inhabiting the coastal scrub, were several specimens of fairly large Southern spiny agama (Agama hispida), with grey females and green males.

Southern spiny agama, Agama hispida
Southern spiny agama, Agama hispida

Namaqua dwarf chameleons (Bradypodion occidentale) were also present in the low vegetation but not easy to find without intensive searching.

Namaqua dwarf chameleon, Bradypodion occidentale

The only snake encountered was the Namib sandsnake (Psammophis namibensis), several specimens being discovered in the coastal root tangles.

Namib sandsnake, Psammophis namibensis

A large wolf spider (Lycosa sp.) was also found wandering on the sands.

Wolf spider, Lycosa sp.