Chlorotalpa duthieae 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Afrosoricida Chrysochloridae

Scientific Name: Chlorotalpa duthieae
Species Authority: (Broom, 1907)
Common Name(s):
English Duthie's Golden Mole
Taxonomic Notes: Included in Amblysomus by Ellerman et al. (1953) and by Petter (1981). Meester (1974) and Meester et al. (1986) included leucorhina (here referred to Huetia) and arendsi (here treated as Carpitalpa) in this genus. Revised by Bronner (1995).

Some authors (Ellerman et al. 1953, Simonetta 1968) treated this taxon as only a subspecies of C. sclateri, but consistent differences in fur colour and chromosomal properties, and their preference for quite dissimilar ecotypes, indicate that they are distinct species (Bronner 1995). A recent phylogenetic analysis supports distinction between these species based on subtle morphological differences (the position of foramen ovale relative to the sphenorbital fissure) and nuclear GHR gene sequences (Asher et al. 2010). Geographic variation is not sufficiently marked to warrant recognition of subspecies (Bronner and Jenkins 2005, Bronner 2013).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-02-11
Assessor(s): Bronner, G.
Reviewer(s): Bennett, N.C. & Taylor, A.
The species is known from only nine locations in southern Cape Afrotemperate Forests, clustered in two subpopulations: an eastern subpopulation in the suburban parts of Port Elizabeth (three locations); and a western subpopulation in the indigenous coastal forest belt from Wilderness to Tsitsikamma (six locations). Gene flow between these two subpopulations seems unlikely owing to intervening drier strandveld habitats. Although the observed area of occupancy (AOO) is 144 km2 (assuming a grid cell area of 16 km2), satisfying one of the criteria for Endangered status, the estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) is nearly 14,000 km2. Given that this species tolerates mild habitat alteration, is common in suburban gardens and pasturelands adjoining natural forests, it is likely to occur more widely than current records indicate, extent of occurrence is the preferred range proxy.

This taxon is not deemed severely fragmented as the (presumably isolated) eastern subpopulation occupies less than 50% of the observed or inferred AOO.

About 60% of the forests in which the western subpopulation occurs are conserved within nature reserves (notably ca 40,000 ha controlled by the South African National Parks agency) and areas managed for sustainable exploitation (Envirotek 2003), and are thus buffered from habitat alteration, which is inferred to be the main threat to this species. However, the extent and quality of their preferred forest habitats at some locations outside protected areas, are clearly being impacted by housing and tourism developments that are expanding along the entire coastline of this subpopulation.

None of the eastern subpopulation locations are currently formally protected, and both the number of locations and the quality and extent of habitat are likely to decline as the city of Port Elizabeth (i.e.Nelson Mandela Bay Metro) continues to expand rapidly.

Given the EOO and AOO of this species, occurrence in only two subpopulations, and the threats that could lead to habitat alteration in both, Vulnerable status is confirmed under criteria B1ab(iii) and B2ab(iii).
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

This species is endemic to South Africa. It occurs in a narrow coastal band 275 km long from Wilderness through Kynsna, Nature’s Valley and Plettenberg Bay (Western Cape), northwards through the Tsitsikamma forests perhaps as far of the Storm River mouth, and to the Walmer and Baakens Vlei districts of Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape).

Countries occurrence:
South Africa (Eastern Cape Province, Western Cape)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:144
Number of Locations:9
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


The species is locally common in coastal and scarp Southern Cape Afrotemperate forest habitats, and adjacent pasturelands, cultivated lands and gardens, but no quantitative data are available.

Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Occurs on alluvial sands and sandy loams in Southern Cape Afrotemperate forests (especially coastal platform and scarp forest patches) in the Fynbos and Moist Savanna biomes. Coexists with Amblysomus corriae in parts of their range, but trapping data suggest that A. c. corriae prefers fynbos and forest fringes, and C. duthieae deeper forest. Thrives in cultivated areas and gardens. Adults solitary, but up to four individuals per hectare have been trapped on the same night, suggesting that population densities are relatively high in areas of suitable habitat. Construct shallow subsurface foraging tunnels that radiate outwards from under the roots of trees. Active mainly at night.

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The most important threats are habitat alteration and fragmentation owing to extensive (and intensive) development of coastal tourism resorts that could degrade habitats and lead to population fragmentation, and increased urbanization in the vicinity of cities (especially Port Elizabeth and Knysna). Localized minor threats include replacement of indigenous forest by plantations, timber harvesting (even in protected natural forests), predation by domestic pets in vicinity of human habitations, and persecution by gardeners.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Protected in the Garden Route National Park (including Tsitsikamma National Park, Wilderness National Park) and  Keurboomsriver Nature Reserve), as well as numerous forest reserves managed by either the Department of Agriculture, Water Affairs and Forestry, or local authorities. It also thrives in cultivated areas and gardens (particularly in the Walmer district of Port Elizabeth), suggesting that it is not at risk if human activities result in only mild habitat transformation. 

Citation: Bronner, G. 2015. Chlorotalpa duthieae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T4768A21285581. . Downloaded on 25 August 2016.
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