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Encephalartos whitelockii

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA CYCADOPSIDA CYCADALES ZAMIACEAE

Scientific Name: Encephalartos whitelockii
Species Authority: P.J.H.Hurter
Synonym(s):
Encephalartos successibus Vorster

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1ab(ii,iii,v)+2ab(ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-10-31
Assessor(s): Kalema, J.
Reviewer(s): Donaldson, J.S. & Luke, Q.R.
Justification:
E. whitelockii was previously classified as Vulnerable based on its small extent of occurrence and area of occupancy and occurrence at a single location. At the time, there was no evidence of decline. However, in May 2007, approval was given for the construction of a hydroelectric plant above the waterfall where the plants occur and construction work began in 2008. The construction has resulted in decline in the population. Although a management plan was developed, the construction and increased access to the site has led to decline which may continue.

The overall impact of the hydroelectric scheme is uncertain, but the construction is expected to directly affect between 30 and 55% of the population. Indirect effects, linked to altered waterflow and changes in mist-based precipitation, are more difficult to predict but could have significant additional effects on the population. Based on current information, the species qualifies as Critically Endangered under criterion B but may also qualify under criterion A in future depending on how the development is managed and whether the development changes the overall ecology of the site.
History:
2003 Vulnerable (IUCN 2003)
2003 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is found in the Kabarole district of the southwestern part of Uganda. Populations occur along the Mpanga river, above and below the Mpanga River Falls, just before it runs into Lake George. Recorded from an altitude of 1,000 to 1,300 m asl.
Countries:
Native:
Uganda
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population size of E. whitelockii is estimated to be 8,000 mature individuals. Seedlings and small plants are absent from open habitats which may be as a result of too frequent fires, but under forest canopy, prolific regeneration occurs. The recorded sex ratio is 43% female to 57% male.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species grows on almost sheer granite faces and on rocky slopes, amongst tall grass in savanna. Also occurs in dense evergreen montane forests.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Threats to the species include:
a) Construction of a small hydro electric power plant on the Mpanga River Falls:
i-Construction of roads and camps in the cycad belt, causing soil erosion and deep gulleys, reducing habitat quality
ii-reduction in population of mature and young individuals as they are knocked down by heavy machinery
iii-reduction in area of occupancy owing to parts being occupied by weir (reservoir), water canal, and power house

b) Local community activities:
i-reports of collection of seed and seedlings for commercial trade may impair the regeneration capacity of the cycad and thus lead to further reduction of its population
ii-cultivation on the slopes of the gorge, clearing the cycads located on the gardens
iii-harvesting of the cycad leaves for building materials
iv-burning of some areas occupied by the cycad for stimulation of grazing pasture.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Appendix I of the CITES Appendices. Although the gorge falls within the Queen Elizabeth National Park, 90% of the population occurs outside the park.

Citation: Kalema, J. 2010. Encephalartos whitelockii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 19 December 2014.
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