Czech Cycads../Cykasy/English.html

Encephalartos middelburgensis in Habitat

Jeff Chemnick

  1. Encephalartos middelburgensis in our Atlas

  2. Cycads of Africa with a number of high quality habitat photos

John Donaldson, Chair of the IUCN Cycad Specialist Group and 2 members, Jeff Chemnick and Tim Gregory went on an 8 day field trip in 2011 to assess cycad populations chiefly in Limpopo Province, South Africa.  We found distressingly low numbers of several species ... some apparently down to a last, single individual (E. hirsutus) and some down to just a few (E. cupidus and E. dolomiticus).  Both E. middelburgensis and E. eugene-maraisii have been poached down to a fraction of their former numbers, perhaps fewer than 50 plants each.  Signs of active poaching were evident at sites of E. eugene-maraisii and E. cupidus where freshly dug holes and cut leaves, still fresh and green, were found among the several plants remainig in the ground.  Incredibly, the poachers apparently work at night, hiking in many kilometers over rough terrain shared with lions and other large animals to carry out stems up to 2 meters in some cases.  Of the "Eugene Complex", only E. dyerianus is relatively intact and that is only because it is fenced in a reserve within a larger fenced reserve and protected around the clock by armed guards who live on the reserve in tents among the cycads.  We didn't have the opportunity to survey E. inopinus but recent reports are very discouraging.  Happily, E. lanatus and E. transvenosus still thrive.