Chrysospalax villosus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Chrysospalax villosus
Species Authority: (A. Smith, 1833)
Common Name(s):
English Rough-haired Golden Mole
Taxonomic Notes: Meester (1974) listed six subspecies distinguished mainly by subtle differences in pelage colour: villosus, transvaalensis, leschae, dobsoni, rufopallidus and rufus. The validity of these subspecies is uncertain.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B2ab(i,ii,iii,iv) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Bronner, G.
Reviewer(s): Rathbun, G. (Afrotheria Red List Authority) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
While the extent of occurrence of this species appears large, it has very specific habitat requirements and its total area of occupancy is estimated at less than 2,000 km² and is severely fragmented. Many of the sites at which this species was collected historically have vanished under urban sprawl (especially in Gauteng) or as overgrazed pastures that are burned annually.
2006 Vulnerable (IUCN 2006)
2006 Vulnerable
1996 Vulnerable
1996 Vulnerable (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
1994 Vulnerable (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Vulnerable (IUCN 1990)
1988 Insufficiently Known (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species has a disjunct distribution in South Africa, being recorded only from scattered localities in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Mpumalanga Provinces.
South Africa
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Extremely rare and secretive; only three specimens have been collected since 1980. Difficult to detect owing to preference for areas with sandy soils and dense vegetation cover.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Sandy soils in grasslands, meadows and along edges of marshes in savanna and grassland biomes of South Africa. Recorded from gardens and parklands, also found in dense stands of kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum) adjoining natural grasslands.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The major threats are habitat alteration as a result of mining and power generation, ecologically poor agricultural practices and urbanization, and habitat degradation associated with mining for shallow coal deposits to fuel numerous power stations that occur in the high-altitude grassland habitats in the northern parts of this species' range. Rehabilitation attempts at these sites have proved largely ineffective. These power stations form the backbone of South Africa's electricity network, and disturbance is likely to increase as human populations grow and the demand for power increases. The widespread practice of allowing cattle to graze in marshes and dense grasslands near water during dry winter months leads to trampling and a loss of cover, and this undoubtedly impacts severely on this species. Some areas in which they formerly occurred (e.g., Tshwane (Pretoria) West) have been completely transformed by urbanization. Currently, there are only a handful of sites (3 in KZN midlands, 1 in Mpumalanga) where there are conclusive signs of their presence.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Possibly occurs in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve (Mpumalanga), and Mgeni Vlei Nature Reserve (KwaZulu-Natal). Research is needed to assess status of populations, and the threats they face, at all known localities.

Citation: Bronner, G. 2008. Chrysospalax villosus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 24 May 2015.
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