Lost focus? The need to re-align conservation priorities in favour of endemics

Ian T Little

The conservation of threatened species has been focussed on charismatic species for long enough. This is not to say that the efforts to conserve charismatic species should be lost but rather that excess resources should no longer be channelled in these directions. Conservation has been seen as a romantic career by many and while it is driven by passion, those implementing conservation actions need to re-consider their priorities. In this talk I present some of the new species projects being implemented by the Threatened Grassland Species Programme (TGSP) of the Endangered Wildlife Trust and hopefully through illustrating these case studies and highlighting other similar examples I aim to spark new thought.
The Sungazer (Smaug giganteus) is endemic to South Africa, occurs only in the north eastern Free State and southern Mpumalanga, it is currently considered globally Vulnerable (IUCN red list) and is a Highveld grassland specialist. To date very little if any conservation attention has been given to this species. The TGSP, through a masters study, is re-assessing the conservation status and identifying priority conservation actions for this remarkable lizard.
The Yellow-breasted Pipit (Anthus chloris) is endemic to South Africa, limited to the eastern Drakensberg between 1800 and 2300m.a.s.l. They are also currently considered Vulnerable, however this species’ status urgently needs to be re-assessed as they are very sensitive to habitat disturbance. Recent increases in extent of commercial livestock farming in the moist highland grasslands are likely to have significantly reduced habitat available for the species, resulting in extensively reduced area of occupancy.
It is essential that the conservation of threatened endemic species be seen as a top priority by regional conservation organisations. This focus should not be limited to their use in habitat assessments but rather the channelling of funds for real implementing of conservation activities for endemic species.

Presentation Topic

Lost focus? The need to re-align conservation priorities in favour of endemics


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Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), P.O. Box 1312, Howick, KZN, 3290


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