Philochortus zolii 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Lacertidae

Scientific Name: Philochortus zolii Scortecci, 1934
Taxonomic Notes: The taxonomy of this species, and other Philochortus species, needs to be reviewed (S. Baha El Din pers. comm). Schleich et al. (1996) indicated that the relationship between this species and West African P. lhotei was in need of clarification. More recently, Trape et al. (2012) considered West African P. lhotei a junior synonym of this species as its morphological characters fall within the range of variability of Egyptian P. zolii reported by Baha El Din (2006) (J.-F. Trape pers. comm. April 2012).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B2ab(ii,iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2012-07-17
Assessor(s): Wagner, P., Wilms, T., Niagate, B., Böhme, W. & Baha El Din, S.
Reviewer(s): Bowles, P.
This species is listed as Endangered due to a small presumed area of occupancy, which is as low as 5 km2 in the only site for which detailed information exists and which in total is almost certainly well below 500 km2, severe fragmentation of its known (and apparently relictual) subpopulations, and a continuing decline in the quality and extent of suitable habitat due to agriculture and development in the oases where they are known. All subpopulations, but particularly the northern three, are likely to be impacted by droughts (both natural and those projected due to climate change).
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is known from five locality records widely scattered across northern Africa. It is known in Libya from two localities: the Oasis of Elbarkat (Al Barkat) 8 km south of Ghat in Fezzan (Zavattari 1937) and from near Ajedabia in western Cyrenaica (Marx 1968). In Egypt it is known from Wadi El Natrun (S. Baha El Din pers. comm); this subpopulation was previously misidentified as belonging to P. intermedius (S. Baha El Din pers. comm.). This account follows Trape et al. (2012) in considering a specimen from In Abezou in Niger (Marx 1968) and another from near Bourem in Mali (previously considered the only known representatives of P. lhotei) as also representing P. zolii (Marx 1968).
Countries occurrence:
Egypt; Libya; Mali; Niger
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:450Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:
Number of Locations:5
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This is a very rare species apparently occurring in small subpopulations, and likely to be genuinely localized around oases (P. Wagner, T. Wilms and B. Niagate pers. comms. 2012). Baha El Din (2006) reports measurements from 12 Egyptian specimens. Recent photographs taken by P. Geniez in Wadi El Natrun indicate that this lizard still occurs at the Egyptian locality (Trape et al. 2012), but no information on population trends at this site is available. Only one specimen is known from each of the two West African localities (Trape et al. 2012).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This lizard is found in semi-desert at the edge of oases, where it is confined to areas with Halfa grasses on sandy soil. The two known West African specimens were reported from sandy areas of the Sahara-Sahelian climatic zone with steppe vegetation (Trape et al. 2012). The species is not believed to be able to adapt to cultivated land. It is an egg-laying species. The northern subpopulations are most probably relictual and are expected to be confined to remaining areas with mesic conditions in an otherwise arid to hyperarid area.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There is, or has been, rare collection of this species in Egypt for the international pet trade. It may also have been collected for scientific research.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This is a highly localized species. Its extent of occurrence at the known Egyptian locality is less than 5 km2; at other sites it is known from isolated specimens. It is threatened by habitat loss through land reclamation for agriculture, and through overgrazing in Egypt and presumably also in Libya. Because the three known northern populations are relictual, survivors from a period when conditions in the Sahara were less arid, they are likely to be extremely dependent on the mesic conditions provided by oases. Potential drying of the region due to droughts, potentially exacerbated by future climate change, is therefore a threat to these subpopulations. This may also be a threat to the southern populations, though little is known about their ecology.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is not present in any protected areas. Research is urgently needed into the taxonomy, distribution, ecology and biology of this species. This species could benefit from ex situ conservation measures to prevent the extinction of the species while in situ conservation measures are developed (S. Baha El Din pers. comm.). There is a need to create protected areas to protect the species and to develop community-based action to conserve the species' habitat in Egypt.

Citation: Wagner, P., Wilms, T., Niagate, B., Böhme, W. & Baha El Din, S. 2013. Philochortus zolii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T61542A16890395. . Downloaded on 21 September 2018.
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