Red List of South African Species

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Endangered (EN)

Rationale

This endemic range-restricted taxon only occurs in the coastal grasslands of Pondoland in south-eastern KwaZulu-Natal Province and north-eastern Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. It has an estimated EOO of 1 153 km<sup>2</sup> and an estimated AOO of 56 km<sup>2</sup>. It is threatened by urban and rural development and overgrazing at most of the unprotected localities where it occurs, as well as other local threats at individual unprotected sites. Certain habitats in Margate where it used to occur, including at the type locality, have been destroyed by urban and agricultural development, and local extinction has resulted at those sites. The population is moderately fragmented. The locations currently known to harbour the taxon are far apart, precluding movement of adults between them. Three of the five subpopulations are small and isolated and probably non-viable in the long term without conservation translocations, whereas the remaining two are larger and potentially viable in the long-term providing the threats to those subpopulations can be mitigated. Using environmental and the taxon’s AOO data for KwaZulu-Natal Province, and assuming similar results for the taxon’s EOO in the Eastern Cape Province, climate change is predicted to affect the character of about 67 % of the remaining habitat for the taxon by making it change to or towards another biome type by 2050 (Jewitt <i>et al.</i>, 2015). The results of the conformal-cubic atmospheric model (CCAM) that was down-scaled using the outputs of two Coupled Global Climate Models (CGCMs) (Jewitt <i>et al.</i>, 2015) as well as prior climatic model results (Driver <i>et al.</i>, 2011) indicate that most of the grassland habitat of the taxon will become increasingly wooded up with savanna trees or forest trees by the year 2050 if climate change cannot be sufficiently ameliorated. The number of locations for the taxon as a result of climate-change-induced habitat shifting is therefore estimated to be three. Under the CCAM down-scaled using outputs from the GFDL2.1 CGCM, only the locations north of Umtamvuna Nature Reserve and near Mpenjati Nature Reserve are not predicted to be affected by climate-change-induced habitat shifting, but these locations are subject to threats from agriculture and/or alien plants. Under the CCAM down-scaled using outputs from the HadCM2 CGCM, only the locations at Margate and Umtamvuna Nature Reserve are not predicted to be affected by climate-change-induced habitat shifting, but the Margate location is subject to threats from urbanisation, infrastructure development, alien plants, dumping of refuse, and off-road vehicles. The taxon thus qualifies globally under the IUCN criteria as Endangered under criteria A and B.

Distribution

Endemic to KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa, only known to occur in the coastal grasslands between Margate in KwaZulu-Natal Province and Port St Johns in Eastern Cape Province to the south.

Decline

The habitat of this taxon outside of protected areas is subjected to urbanisation, rural settlement, cultivation, dumping, off-road vehicle driving, alien plant invasion, overgrazing and fire suppression near urban areas (Williams, 2013; pers. obs.).

Population trend

Trend

The population is declining owing to local extinctions.

Threats

Climate change, coupled with land transformation and the resultant loss of habitat intactness, will pose a severe threat to this taxon in the KwaZulu-Natal part of its EOO in the future (Jewitt <i>et al.</i>, 2015). Although the extent of the Indian Ocean Coastal Belt in the part of the taxon’s EOO in the Eastern Cape Province may increase under the best case climate change scenario (Driver <i>et al.</i>, 2012), this may result in forest expanding, which would render the habitat unsuitable for the taxon. Under the intermediate and worst case scenarios, the Indian Ocean Coastal Belt climate envelope shifts to a Savanna climate envelope (Driver <i>et al.</i>, 2012), thereby rendering much or all of the area unsuitable as habitat. The taxon inhabits the Critically Endangered Margate Pondoland-Ugu Sourveld and Southern Coastal Grasslands ecosystems and the Endangered Oribi-Port Edward Pondoland Ugu Sourveld ecosystem in KwaZulu-Natal. However, the ecosystems that it inhabits in the Eastern Cape Province are not listed as threatened in the South African ‘National List of Ecosystems that are Threatened and in Need of Protection’ of 2011. This taxon has lost colonies at Margate owing to urban development and cultivation; elsewhere, habitat has been degraded or lost through rural residential development, subsistence farming, overgrazing by livestock, tourism development and fire suppression as a result of urban development (Williams, 2013; A.J. Armstrong, pers. obs.). Off-road vehicle driving in the habitat, dumping of refuse, spread of invasive alien plants such as <i>Lantana camara</i> and timber trees, erection of buildings and laying of water pipelines are further current threats at one site on the outskirts of Margate (A.J. Armstrong, pers. obs.). Potential future threats to the habitat of this taxon include the rerouting of the N3 freeway and mining in the Eastern Cape Province, and movement of pesticides and fertilizers into habitat with the intensification of agriculture on its edges.

Conservation

Management and protection of remaining known habitat outside currently protected areas is required. Draft legislation exists that would assist in protecting the habitat of the taxon in areas that are not protected should the legislation be gazetted. Ecotourism enterprises should be established in areas that need protection as there needs to be an income stream from the area as well as observer presence in the areas. A management plan for this taxon could be developed and implemented.

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