Red List of South African Species

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Critically Endangered (CR)

Rationale

The Elusive Skimmer is endemic to the Western Cape of South Africa, with the holotype being described from Table Mountain, Cape Town. The species appears to have been rare, and was last recorded alive in 1977 (Pinhey 1979). Despite very intensive searches every year from 1987 to 2010 in all its former, known localities, it has not been rediscovered. Nor has it been rediscovered at other apparently suitable localities in the Western Cape. Its type locality has been explored 50 times in the last 20 years, and the locality where it was last seen, Du Toits Kloof, has also been revisited, on many occasions, without any success. It may of course exist in as yet unexplored localities, but if this is so, the species would still exceedingly rare, and now absent from its known former localities. The species is now assessed as Critically Endangered, with a high risk of being extinct.

Distribution

Formerly, this species was recorded from various localities in the Western Cape, including Table Mountain. Clearly it was never an abundant species (Pinhey 1979, 1984b). A great deal of searching time was devoted to this species between 1993 and 2011 but it was never rediscovered since 1977, suggesting that it may be under severe threat or even extinct.

Population trend

Trend

There is no information available at all on current population size or trends. It has not been seen since 1977.

Threats

It is not clear why this species has not been rediscovered as its upland habitat is largely found in protected areas. However, it may breed at lower elevations where it is affected by threats as plantation forestry, alien invasive trees, alien trout and, in Du Toit’s Kloof, from fish farming.

Conservation

Searches must continue, especially for the larval habitat. Continued removal of alien trees must also continue. Trout should no longer be released and those present should be removed. Research into population numbers and range, biology and ecology, habitat status, threats, conservation measures, and trends/monitoring of this species would also be valuable.

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