Smaug giganteus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Cordylidae

Scientific Name: Smaug giganteus (A. Smith, 1844)
Common Name(s):
English Giant Dragon Lizard, Giant Girdled Lizard, Giant Spiny-tailed Lizard, Giant Zonure, Sungazer
French Cordyle géant, Lézard à queue épineuse géant
Cordylus giganteus A. Smith, 1844
Taxonomic Notes: Previously contained within the genus Cordylus (Stanley et al. 2011). This species represents a distinct and deeply divergent lineage in the genus Smaug (Stanley and Bates 2014).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2c ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2013-05-16
Assessor(s): Mouton, P.L.F.N.
Reviewer(s): Bates, M.F.
A reduction in population size of at least 30% during the last 27 years (three generations) is inferred from the continuous habitat destruction in the Grassland Biome [A2c]. In addition, it is likely that a large part of the population exists in fragmented islands of grassland habitat between croplands.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Endemic to South Africa, where it is found only in the grasslands of the northern Free State (De Waal 1978) and the southwestern parts of Mpumalanga (Jacobsen 1989). Records of this species in KwaZulu-Natal (e.g. Bourquin 2004) apparently all refer to introduced populations that did not become established, and there are no confirmed records of natural populations in that province (Armstrong 2011). A record for Witsieshoek (2828DB) in the Free State and two records for western Lesotho (Ambrose 2006) are considered doubtful.

Countries occurrence:
South Africa (Free State, Mpumalanga)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:3352Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:39296
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):Yes
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Newberry and Petersen (1982/83) estimated population size at approximately 300,000.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Population severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:One of only a few terrestrial cordylids, inhabiting flat or sloping Highveld grassland where it lives in self-excavated burrows (Branch 1998). Diurnal and insectivorous, although plant material may also be consumed (Jacobsen 1989).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):9

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

Commercial exploitation for the pet trade is limited and contained (Jacobsen 1989) but remains a permanent threat.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The areas inhabited by this species are suitable for agriculture, particularly maize and sunflower cultivation, and large areas have been planted, resulting in large scale habitat loss (De Waal 1978, Newberry and Petersen 1982/83). Habitat loss due to agriculture is a continuing threat. Large portions of the grassland habitat are underlain by coal beds of varying quality and extent, and exploitation of coal for fuel has and will result in further habitat loss (Newberry and Petersen 1982/83). In the past this species has also been used by traditional healers (Newberry and Petersen 198/83), but there is uncertainty over the extent of its present use in traditional medicine and witchcraft. Commercial exploitation by the pet trade is limited and contained (Jacobsen 1989), but remains a permanent threat. In the past, fumigating burrows for the control of Yellow Mongoose (Cynictis penicillata) and Suricate (Suricata suricatta) resulted in great losses (Newberry and Petersen 1982/83) and poisoning of this lizard will always remain a threat in agricultural areas. Losses are exacerbated by poor recruitment ability; females reproduce only every second year (Van Wyk 1991). Poor fire management may also affect this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed in CITES Appendix II. Continue with research to develop an effective translocation protocol (Van Wyk 1988). Continuously encourage farmers to protect these animals and to stop all forms of persecution by farm workers (Newberry and Petersen 1982/83). Prohibit the removal of lizards from natural populations. Draft a Species Management Plan (BMP-S).

Citation: Mouton, P.L.F.N. 2017. Smaug giganteus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T5336A110315393. . Downloaded on 16 October 2018.
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