Opisthopatus roseus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Onychophora Onychophora Onychophora Peripatopsidae

Scientific Name: Opisthopatus roseus Lawrence, 1947
Common Name(s):
English Pink Velvet Worm

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1ab(i,iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2003
Date Assessed: 2003-04-30
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Hamer, M.
Reviewer(s): Samways, M. & Hamer, M. (Southern African Invertebrate Red List Authority)
In 1996, this species was assessed as Extinct. This was an error and the existence of this species has been confirmed.

Six specimens of Opisthopatus roseus were collected in 1945. This was the first record of the species, which is distinguished from other onychophorans by its bright pink colouration. Although Lawrence searched the area for more specimens, only two were found in 1951, another one in 1985, and six in 1995. The only location that these specimens have been found is the Ngele Forest in southern KwaZulu-Natal.

Ngele Forest is naturally patchy, and this has led to the loss of many of the smaller patches in the last century. The indigenous Ngele Forest was heavily logged in the early 1900s, and in 1891 a private sawmill was built nearby (Lawes and Eeley 2000). Loss of the Ngele Forest area continues, as exotic plantations are planted around and right up to the margins of the indigenous forests. Harvesting of the plantations disrupts the margin of the forest. Associated with the timber plantations is a high level of invasion by alien plants. The Ngele forest has been fragmented by the construction of a national road through it, and by the widening of this road. Although the area is theoretically protected, access is completely uncontrolled.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Only recorded from South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, Ngele Forest. This forest is known to be naturally patchy, which has led, and continues to lead to the destruction of the smaller patches. The main forest area is fragmented by a national road.
Countries occurrence:
South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal)
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Populations can be inferred to have decreased in association with the decrease in area of occurrence, and to continue decreasing with current and future degradation of Ngele Forest. No information is available on population size or density. It appears that there are no subpopulations outside of the Ngele area, although there may be subpopulations in different forest patches within the Ngele complex.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:O. roseus is confined to indigenous, Afromontane forest, where it occurs amongst moist leaf litter or under or in fallen and rotting logs.

Generation length in onychophorans is generally longer than in most invertebrates. No data exist for O. roseus, but for other members of the family in South Africa, gestation is approximately 12-13 months. Sexual maturity takes 9-11 months to reach and the life span is about 6-7 years (Manton 1938). In O. cinctipes only about 40 young are produced by each female in a year (Purcell 1899).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Area of occurrence and occupancy are known to have decreased, and the quality of the habitat is known to have been affected by the removal of a large proportion of timber, the spread of alien invasive plants, and the construction of a national road through the forest.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Permits are required by provincial conservation agency to collect any animals and there is some degree of protection of habitat in place by the State. Recommended conservation measures include increasing public awareness of the species, further research on population numbers, range, biology of the species, and habitat status.

Citation: Hamer, M. 2003. Opisthopatus roseus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2003: e.T15389A4559335. . Downloaded on 19 September 2018.
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