Cryptochloris zyli 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Afrosoricida Chrysochloridae

Scientific Name: Cryptochloris zyli Shortridge & Carter, 1938
Common Name(s):
English Van Zyl's Golden Mole
Taxonomic Notes: Simonetta (1968) regarded this monotypic species as only subspecifically distinct from C. wintoni. However, these taxa differ consistently in pelage colour and malleus morphology, indicating that they are not conspecific (Meester 1974). Recent (but still unpublished) phylogenetic analyses based on both morphological and genetic data support the allocation of these taxa to separate species, and justify synonymizing Cryptochloris as a subgenus of Chrysochloris, corroborating the close phylogenetic association of these taxa reported by Asher et al. (2010).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-02-07
Assessor(s): Bronner, G.
Reviewer(s): Asher, R.J. & Taylor, A.

Until recently known only from a single location, but recorded from a second location near Groenriviermond in 2003; this suggests that the range of this species is more widespread than previously recognized. The extent of occurrence ie estimated to be just under 5,000 km2  and area of occupancy is estimated to be 32 km2 (assuming a grid cell area of 16 km2). Dramatic habitat alteration owing to mining of coastal sands for alluvial diamonds and heavy metals could be impacting on the coastal dune habitats of this species, as this has been identified as a threat to Eremitalpa granti (Smithers 1986) with which this species coexists, and large-scale alluvial diamond mines occur at Hondeklipbaai (about 60 km from the Groenriviermond subpopulation) and are undergoing expansion. Habitat alteration owing to the erection of wind farms near the type locality is a potential but localized threat. The species is therefore confirmed as Endangered under criterion B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii).

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Until recently, recorded from only the type locality near Lambert's Bay, Western Cape, South Africa (Helgen and Wilson 2001). Another specimen was collected at Groenriviermond, some 150 km further north along the Namaqualand coast in November 2003 (Northern Cape), suggesting that the range of this species is more extensive than previously recognized, perhaps due to the difficulty in catching these moles. Range continuity between these localities cannot, however, be justifiably assumed as so little is known about the ecological requirements and tolerances of this species.
Countries occurrence:
South Africa (Northern Cape Province, Western Cape)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:32Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:4999
Number of Locations:2
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


This species is extremely rare even at the two locations where it is known to occur. No quantitative data are available.

Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

Occurs in the coastal dune belt and adjacent sandy areas in Strandveld Succulent Karoo (Succulent Karoo biome) of the Namaqua coastal plain.

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

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Dramatic habitat alteration owing to large-scale mining of coastal sands for alluvial diamonds and heavy metals could be impacting on the coastal dune habitats of this species, as large-scale alluvial diamond mines occur at Hondeklipbaai (~60 km from the Groenriviermond subpopulation) and undergoing expansion. However, the extent and impact of this potential threat is unknown. Habitat alteration associated with the establishment of wind farms near the type locality, and  tourism developments along the west coast may pose additional threats.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Occurs near the Groenrivier mouth in Namaqua National Park. Research is needed to establish distribution limits and to gather basic data on natural history of this species.

Citation: Bronner, G. 2015. Cryptochloris zyli. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T5749A21286235. . Downloaded on 23 April 2018.
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