Gland, Switzerland, 4 July 2004 (IUCN)-The World Conservation Union. The Red Data Book of the Mammals of South Africa: A Conservation Assessment is the first ever conservation assessment of every terrestrial and marine mammal in South Africa, using the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species criteria at regional level. A previous assessment published in 1986 covered only a subset of species.
This new book is a major achievement, updating current scientific knowledge on the status and threats facing the country's mammals, whilst highlighting the species in greatest danger of becoming extinct. It also makes recommendations for the strategic conservation and management of threatened mammals and their habitats. Undoubtedly a major milestone in South African mammal conservation, it has been possible thanks to the hard work of nearly 90 of the country's mammal specialists over the past two years.
Of the 295 mammal species and sub-species evaluated, 57 (19 %) are considered to be threatened in South Africa, because they were assigned to one of the three "at risk of extinction" categories.
* 10 species, including seven endemic species, have been classified as Critically Endangered (considered to face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild):
Black rhinoceros - arid ecotype Diceros bicornis bicornis
De Winton's golden mole Cryptochloris wintoni
Juliana's golden mole Neamblysomus julianae (Pretoria subpopn.)
Ongoye red squirrel Paraxerus palliatus ornatus
Rendall's serotine bat Neoromicia rendalli
Riverine rabbit Bunolagus monticularis
Rough-haired golden mole Chrysospalax villosus
Short-eared trident bat Cloeotis percivali
Van Zyl's golden mole Cryptochloris zyli
Visagie's golden mole Chrysochloris visagiei
* A further 18 mammals, including six endemic species, are classified as Endangered (considered to face a very high risk of extinction in the wild):
African wild dog Lycaon pictus
Antarctic "true" blue whale Balaenoptera musculus intermedia
Cape mole-rat Georychus capensis (KZN subpopn.)
Damara woolly bat Kerivoula argentata
Four-toed elephant-shrew Petrodromus tetradactylus
Gunning's golden mole Neamblysomus gunningi
Hartmann's mountain zebra Equus zebra hartmannae
Indian ocean bottlenose dolphin Tursiops aduncus (migratory subpopn.)
Marley's golden mole Amblysomus marleyi
Oribi Ourebia ourebi
Robust golden mole Amblysomus robustus
Samango monkey ssp. Labiatus Cercopithecus mitis labiatus
Sclater's forest shrew Myosorex sclateri
Southern elephant seal Mirounga leonina
Swinny's horseshoe bat Rhinolophus swinnyi
Tonga red bush squirrel ssp. Paraxerus palliatus tongensis
Tsessebe Damaliscus lunatus lunatus
White-tailed rat Mystromys albicaudatus
* The remaining 29 threatened species are classified as Vulnerable (considered to face a high risk of extinction in the wild).
The main threats to many mammals are habitat loss and land use changes, as well as hunting and pollution. Habitats under greatest threat which support the highest number of threatened mammals are savannah, grasslands and forests.
This publication will without doubt be a vital tool for setting conservation and management priorities in South Africa, by directing conservation action towards species in greatest danger. The baseline data on all mammals will also allow population trends in both common and threatened species to be monitored over time, with the potential to measure the success or failure of conservation programmes.
A copy of the book, which is over 700 pages, can be obtained as a paper copy or on CD-ROM from Ms Yolan Friedmann, Conservation Manager, Endangered Wildlife Trust. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel. + 27 (0)11 486 1102 / (0)82 990 3534.
This project would not have been possible without the dedication, time, effort and enthusiastic participation of all the scientific contributors, their organizations, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group of the IUCN's Species Survival Commission and the SSC Red List Programme. Invaluable was the support of Vodacom, the Lomas Wildlife Trust and the National Research Foundation.