Encephalartos aemulans 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Cycadopsida Cycadales Zamiaceae

Scientific Name: Encephalartos aemulans Vorster
Common Name(s):
English Ngotshe Cycad

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1ab(v)+2ab(v); C2a(ii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-10-31
Assessor(s): Donaldson, J.S.
Reviewer(s): Agenbag, L. & Bösenberg, J.D.
Listed as Critically Endangered under criterion B because it occurs essentially at one location with continuing decline in the number of individuals, and under criterion C because there are <250 mature plants with >90% in one subpopulation. The A criterion (used in the previous assessment) was not used as the extent of the decline cannot be properly estimated.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The species is endemic to South Africa and occurs in the KwaZulu-Natal province. It is known from one viable population in the Vryheid district. The plants grow on a hill at an altitude of 1,000 to 1,100 m. Two old male plants were found approximately 10 km away at an altitude of 600 m.
Countries occurrence:
South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:2
Number of Locations:1
Lower elevation limit (metres):600
Upper elevation limit (metres):1100
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:According to Scott-Shaw (1999), there were 150 plants surviving in the wild. Donaldson and co-workers counted <100 (in part of the population) in 1997, but unverified reports put the total at about 250 individuals. Active seedling regeneration is taking place.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:100-250
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The plants prefer south facing sandstone cliffs in short grassland. Plants also occur below the cliffs in humus-rich scree where especially small plants were found in more shady conditions. Mature coning plants are fully exposed. The north and north-east slopes only had a few very old plants and conditions do not seem to favour seedling regeneration. The climate is hot in summer and cold in winter with possible light frost. Rainfall is 600-800 mm per annum with a summer maximum.
Generation Length (years):70

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species' occurrence at a single site means the plants are vulnerable to environmental perturbations. Collecting has been a problem in the past although the bulk of the plants now occur within a private nature reserve. Collecting, however, still remains an issue.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Appendix I of the CITES Appendices. A large part of the population occurs within a private nature reserve. However the reserve is not secure against poachers and the owner believes that plants are still disappearing.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
4. Grassland -> 4.4. Grassland - Temperate
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
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
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:Yes
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
5. Biological resource use -> 5.2. Gathering terrestrial plants -> 5.2.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 Local : ✓   National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Establishing ex-situ production *

Bibliography [top]

Hill, K.D. and Stevenson, D.W. 1998 - 2006. The Cycad Pages. Available at:

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.3). Available at: (Accessed: 2 September 2010).

Scott-Shaw, C.R. 1999. Rare and Threatened Plants of KwaZulu-Natal and Neighbouring Regions. KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Services, Pietermaritzburg.

Von Breitenbach, F. and J. 1992. Tree Atlas of Southern Africa. Dendrological Foundation, Pretoria, South Africa.

Vorster, P. 1990. Encephalartos aemulans (Zamiaceae), a new species from northern Natal. South African Journal of Botany 56(2): 239-243.

Citation: Donaldson, J.S. 2010. Encephalartos aemulans. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T41765A10533658. . Downloaded on 18 August 2018.
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