Bunolagus monticularis 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Lagomorpha Leporidae

Scientific Name: Bunolagus monticularis
Species Authority: (Thomas, 1903)
Common Name(s):
English Riverine Rabbit, Bushman Rabbit, Bushman Hare
Lepus monticularis Thomas, 1903
Taxonomic Notes: Generic synonym Lepus.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered C2a(i) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2008-07-02
Assessor(s): South African Mammal CAMP Workshop
Reviewer(s): Smith, A.T. & Johnston, C.
No subpopulation is estimated to contain more than 50 individuals, and these subpopulations appear to be isolated due to anthropogenic barriers to dispersal. Quantitative analysis using VORTEX 3.1 showed that the probability of extinction in the wild was more than 50% within the next 100 years. (see Erratum below).

Erratum: Since this assessment was published in 2008, it has been confirmed that the quantitative analysis for this species considered only part of the global population. Since this analysis did not consider the entire global population for this species, it does not support the use of criterion E for this assessment. Therefore criterion E has now been removed from this assessment.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Critically Endangered (CR)
2003 Critically Endangered (CR)
1996 Endangered (EN)
1994 Endangered (E)
1990 Endangered (E)
1988 Endangered (E)
1986 Endangered (E)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to the central Karoo region of South Africa. The extent of occurrence is 101-5,000 km² and area of occupancy is 11-500 km².
Countries occurrence:
South Africa (Northern Cape Province, Western Cape)
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:11-500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Ref: (Collins et al. 2004). There are less than 90% of mature individuals in one subpopulation. There are 10 subpopulations. There has been a rapid decline of population due to loss of 50-60% of habitat in the past 70 years, this decline has been arrested due to a decrease in cultivation and public awareness and establishment of conservancies. The current population is estimated at less than 250 breeding pairs and is declining. It is estimated that over the last 70 years the population has declined by 60% or more. Population decline of 10% or more is predicted to occur between 2002 and 2022. The population is fragmented, with no subpopulation containing more than 50 individuals. Population densities were estimated at 0.064-0.166/ha (Duthie et al. 1989).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Riverine Rabbit inhabits dense riparian growth along the seasonal rivers in the central Karoo (Nama-Karoo - shrubland). Occurs specifically in riverine vegetation on alluvial soils adjacent to seasonal rivers. The habitat is highly fragmented and transformed. Studies show the habitat to be 67% fragmented in certain areas that can be considered representative of the entire distribution.

CHANGE IN HABITAT SIZE: Decreasing in area.
PRIMARY CAUSE OF CHANGE: Cultivation and livestock farming.
CHANGES IN QUALITY: Decrease in quality.
NOTES ON QUALITY: livestock and cultivation.
HABITAT NOTES: Habitat not being minimally transformed at present. subpopulations isolated from each other by jackal-proof fencing and severe land transformation through agricultural practices.

Generation length for this species is two years (Collins et al. 2004). This species has a single litter per year with 1-2 young per litter (Duthie 1989). Reproductive periodicity occurs from August through May (Duthie and Robinson 1990). Gestation time is 35-36 days (Duthie 1989). Longevity in captivity is five years (Collins et al. 2003). Home range is 12 ha (Duthie 1989). Total length ranges from 33.7-47.0 cm (Nowak 1991).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Loss and degradation of habitat are the main threats to the species. Over the last century, 50-80% of habitat has been lost as a result of cultivation (mostly in the past) and livestock farming (ongoing). Other threats to the species include hunting (the rabbit is hunted for sport and by farm workers), and accidental mortality in traps set for pest animals on farmlands.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Bunolagus monticularis is listed as Endangered in the 1986 South African National Red Data Book, and there is a genetic study of the species underway. At the CBSG CAMP South Africa workshop, conservation actions recommended included further research into the life history of this species, management of habitat, wild population management, limiting factors, captive breeding/cultivation, and increased public awareness. The captive breeding/cultivation recommendations include plans for species recovery, education, reintroduction, research, and a management plan workshop. There is currently a coordinated species management program in South Africa.

Classifications [top]

3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability: Suitable  
8. Desert -> 8.1. Desert - Hot
suitability: Suitable  
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.2. Species recovery
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.4. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.4. Scale Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.2. Unintentional effects (species is not the target)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
2. Conservation Planning -> 2.1. Species Action/Recovery Plan

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Sport hunting/specimen collecting
 Local : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Collins, K., Ahlmann, V., Matthee, C., Taylor, P. J., Keith, M. and van Jaarsveld, A., 2003. Bunolagus monticularis. Available at: www.redlist.org.

Collins, K., Ahlman, V., Matthee, C., Taylor, P., Keith, M., Palmer, G. and van Jaarsveld, A. 2004. Bunolagus monticularis. In: Y. Friedman and B. Daly (eds), Red Data Book of the Mammals of South Africa: A Conservation Assessment, pp. 412-413. CBSG Southern Africa, Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (SSC/IUCN), Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Duthie, A. G. 1989. The ecology of the riverine rabbit (Bunolagus monticularis). Thesis, University of Pretoria.

Duthie, A. G. and Robinson, T. J. 1990. Chapter 8: The African Rabbits. In: J. A. Chapman and J. E. C. Flux (eds), Rabbits, Hares and Pikas: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan, pp. 121-127. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Duthie, A. G., Skinner, J. D. and Robinson, T. J. 1989. The distribution and status of the Riverine Rabbit, Bunolagus monticularis, South Africa. Biological Conservation 47: 195-202.

IUCN. 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

IUCN. 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2013.1). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 12 June 2013).

Nowak, R.M. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA and London, UK.

Citation: South African Mammal CAMP Workshop. 2013. Bunolagus monticularis. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T3326A43710964. . Downloaded on 30 November 2015.
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