Red List of South African Species

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Vulnerable (VU)
Assessors: Michael Samways
Contributors: Frank Suhling
Facilitators: Dewidine Van Der Colff
Reviewers: Domitilla Raimondo


Robust Skimmer (Orthetrum robustum) has an estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) of 12,035 km2 and an area of occupancy (AOO) of 92 km2 and is known from less than 10 locations. It is experiencing continuous threats as a result of drought and over abstraction of water causing habitat degradation as well as extreme population fluctuations due to drought conditions, as species is expected to return when favorable conditions re-establish. It is assessed as Vulnerable B1ab(iii)c(ii) + 2ab(iii)c(ii). While it is known to be vagile in South Africa, retreating to permanent water bodies in times of drought and expanding to temporary pools in wet periods, there is no evidence to date of cross-border movement, although this is possible. Since this is a regional assessment at the national level, regional adjustment has been considered but will not be implemented.


This species is endemic to the southern Africa region. It mainly occurs in swampy areas in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa (mostly shallow pans) and Zambia. It may also occur in Mozambique, but has not been recorded there.

Population trend


No information is available on population size or trends, apart from local expansion and retraction corresponding to wet and dry periods, causing extreme fluctuations.


Current threats to the species entire range are unknown. However in South Africa it is highly susceptible to drought, exacerbated by over abstraction.


Research into population numbers and range, biology and ecology, habitat status, threats, and trends/monitoring of this species would be valuable (Samways 2008 and Samways and Simaika 2016).

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