Encephalartos kisambo 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Cycadopsida Cycadales Zamiaceae

Scientific Name: Encephalartos kisambo Faden & Beentje
Common Name(s):
English Voi Cycad
Encephalartos sp. B
Encephalartos voiensis Moretti, D. Stevenson & Sclavo
Taxonomic Notes: Discovered in the 1960s by Robert Archer, and later discussed by Heenan (1977) and Goode (1985), although not formally described until 1989 by European botanists working in East Africa - Bob Faden and Henk Beentje. It had been concurrently described as E. voiensis by Moretti et al. (1989), but this publication was a few months later.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(ii,iii,v)+2ab(ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-10-31
Assessor(s): Eastern Arc Mountains & Coastal Forests CEPF Plant Assessment Project & Bösenberg, J.D
Reviewer(s): Beentje, H., Gereau, R., Kabuye, C., Kalema, J., Luke, Q., Lyaruu, H., Maunder, M., Mwachala, G., Ndangalasi, H., Njau, F. & Schatz, G. (East African Plants Red List Authority) and Donaldson, J.S. & Victor, J. (Cycad Red List Authority)
Known only from four locations, is severely fragmented, there is continuing decline due to collectors and habitat destruction and both the extent of occurrence (EOO) and area of occupancy (AOO) are well within the thresholds for an Endangered listing. The EOO and AOO are in fact close to meeting the thresholds for Critically Endangered (CR) and if habitat loss continues at the same rate, the species could well qualify for listing as CR in the near-future. Hence close monitoring is required.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Recorded from southern Kenya on the slopes of Maungu (Marungu) Hills near Voi and from the Mulilonyi, Nyangala, Sagala, Rukinga and Kasigau hills (the type of E. voiensis was from Mount Kasigau). Also recorded from northern Tanzania on Kisima Hill in the Mkomazi Game Reserve. Recorded from 800 to 1.800 m.
Countries occurrence:
Kenya; Tanzania, United Republic of
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:10-20Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:400
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:4Continuing decline in number of locations:No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:NoLower elevation limit (metres):800
Upper elevation limit (metres):1800
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Was locally common. The population is estimated to number about 5,000 mature individuals. Some reports indicate the number may now be much lower but this has yet to be confirmed.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:5000Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:Yes
Continuing decline in subpopulations:No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species occurs in closed to open evergreen cloud forest on steep mountain slopes. They occur as infrequent populations or individuals on steep, moist, well-wooded slopes of inselberg and hills surrounded by dry savana. Although most plants occur in moist forest situations, some are found hugging cliffs and drier rocky promontories in the open. Frequent mist occurs.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):70

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This is a very attractive species and is sought after in the horticultural trade although it is not that common in cultivation because of its large size. Seeds collected from the wild in 1993 were distributed worldwide helped to firmly establish E. kissambo in cultivation.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The habitat in two locations (Maungu and Rukinga) is under threat by forest clearance for charcoal production and the areas were being inhabited by squatters as they are close to road access. There is ongoing illegal targeting of plants and seeds by cycad collectors.Forest and bush is also being cleared for expanding agriculture. Kasigau and Mkomazi are reasonably secure at present.

Plants are reportedly used as a food source during famine (presumably the seeds and possibly the stems) and foliage is sometimes used as decorations by the local people.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Although Kasigau is theoretically protected as a Forest Reserve above 1,000 m, the species is not known to occur above this altitude on Kasigau. In Mkomazi Game Reserve, although it sometimes suffers from stock invasion, the hills should be secure but the subpopulation reported from there is small.

Is listed in CITES Appendix I.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.1. International level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

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

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

6. Human intrusions & disturbance -> 6.3. Work & other activities
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.3. Trade trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.4. Habitat trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Handicrafts, jewellery, etc.
 Local : ✓ 

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

♦  Establishing ex-situ production *

Bibliography [top]

Faden, R.B. and Beentje, H.J. 1989. Encephalartos kisambo, a new cycad from Kenya, with a note on E. tegulaneus. Utafiti 2(1): 7-10.

Hurter, J. 1994. Focus on Encephalartos kisambo. Encephalartos 39: 4-8.

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

Moretti, A., Stevenson, D.W. and Sclavo, J.P. 1989. Encephalartos voiensis (Zamiaceae), a new east central African species in the E. hildebrandtii complex. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 76(3): 934-938.

Whitelock, L.M. 2002. The Cycads. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.

Citation: Eastern Arc Mountains & Coastal Forests CEPF Plant Assessment Project & Bösenberg, J.D. 2010. Encephalartos kisambo. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T41906A10588549. . Downloaded on 20 August 2018.
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