Chrysospalax trevelyani


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Chrysospalax trevelyani
Species Authority: (Günther, 1875)
Common Name(s):
English Giant Golden Mole
Taxonomic Notes: Generic synonym = Bematiscus Cope, 1892 (see Ellerman et al. 1953). No subspecies.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-01-27
Assessor(s): Bronner, G.
Reviewer(s): Asher, R.J. & Taylor, A.

Although recorded from 17 localities in the Eastern Cape, this species is now possibly locally extinct at many sites, and appears to survive only in larger patches of indigenous Afromontane forest on the eastern slopes of the Amathole mountains. Although the historical extent of occurrence is >20,000 km2, it has very specific habitat requirements and its total area of occupancy is estimated to be 272 km2, and is severely fragmented (even if historical records are included as many of these were from small and isolated indigenous forest patches). The species does not occur in commercial forestry plantations which abut, or have replaced, many of the remaining patches of natural habitat. Some of the larger indigenous forests are officially "protected", but management and conservation actions on the ground are often poor. Many of these “protected forests” fall under the jurisdiction of local tribal chiefs, and even in some state-managed forests cattle are allowed to range freely, and trample/degrade the habitat of this species. Recreational hunting by young herdsmen and pack-hunting by domestic/feral dogs pose a threat at some locations, whereas bark-stripping of trees for traditional medicines, collection of firewood and burning of unprotected forest patches degrade their preferred habitats. Ongoing urbanization in the vicinity of East London/Buffalo City, and coastal tourism developments have disturbed many of the coastal forests in which this species may have occurred historically. Given the restricted area of occupancy, probable reduction in number of locations to <10, and the varied and probably increasing threats to this species, it is listed as Endangered.

2006 Endangered
1996 Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is endemic to South Africa. Recorded from indigenous Afromontane forests in Eastern Cape from East London northwards along coast to Port St Johns, and inland to Amathole and Kologha Mountains near King Williams Town and Stutterheim.
South Africa (Eastern Cape Province)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Locally common, but with a clumped dispersion.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Occurs in Transkei Coastal Scarp forests and Amathole Mistbelt forests, sometimes marginally into adjacent grassland habitats (Maddock 1986). Not present in commercial forestry plantations, which abut or have replaced many indigenous forest patches. They have specific habitat requirements, selecting areas in forest patches with soft soils, well-developed undergrowth, and deep leaf-litter layers; but avoid steep slopes and rocky terrain (Bronner 2013). Apparently restricted to larger forest patches (Castley et al. 2000). They make short tunnels (1-13 m long) amidst the roots of trees, and forage mainly above ground in leaf litter, rooting for small invertebrates (especially giant earthworms and omniscomorph millipedes) and may even consume any small vertebrates they encounter (Bronner 2013).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Likely major threats include: habitat loss owing to fragmentation of forests, which is ongoing in coastal forests as a result of urbanization (East London / Buffalo City district) and ubiquitous coastal tourist resorts; and degradation of remaining forests as a result of forest clearance, collection of firewood, bark stripping, cutting for construction, allegedly sustainable timber harvesting and livestock overgrazing/trampling. The species may now be locally extinct at many locations where it occurred formerly (even within the Amathole forests they have disappeared at sites where they were collected in the early 1990s).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Possibly present in a few small nature reserves in its range, and state-managed forest reserves, but conservation efficacy in such areas appears to be dubious. Field surveys are needed to establish the conservation status and threats faced by populations at the 17 localities this species is known to have occurred at in the past.

Citation: Bronner, G. 2015. Chrysospalax trevelyani. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 05 July 2015.
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