Colophon switalae

Assessor: Riaan Stals

Sensitive in 2010
No
Family
Lucanidae
Reason for the sensitivity status
Wild specimens of this genus are known to be targeted and exploited for international trade as seen on online marketplaces. Evidence of exploitation and population size of this species is unknown and so extent of risk cannot be deduced.
Exploitation extent
Uncertain - No data exists yet showing that this species is exploited in the wild, however it has one or more relatives or look-alike species (found in South Africa or globally) that are known to be utilised. This species has a similar life form or other relevant traits to its exploited relative(s), making it highly likely that it would be exploited for the same purposes.
Justification and references

 

1. Taxonomy

Colophon switalae Jacobs & Scholtz, 2015, in Jacobs, Scholtz & Strümpher (2015)

FAMILY Lucanidae (stag beetles)

  • Genus Colophon: Cape Mountain Stag Beetles
  • Species Colophon switalae: Angelika's Cape Mountain Stag Beetle

Taxon concept: The species concept employed here is that of Jacobs, Scholtz & Strümpher (2015).

 

 

2. Prior, existing or proposed conservation status

 

2.1. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Not evaluated, as of February 2018.

 

2.2. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

Listed in Appendix III.

  • Listed as "Colophon spp." to which interpretative note No. 2 refers: "The abbreviation “spp.” is used to denote all species of a higher taxon."

REFERENCE: CITES Appendices valid from 2017-10-04.

 

2.3. Threatened or Protected Species (ToPS) list, 2007

Not applicable — species only described in December 2015.

 

2.4. Threatened or Protected Species (ToPS) list, revised 2011 (unpublished)

•• Revised lists published for public comment: Notice 389 of 2013, Government Gazette No. 36375, 16 April 2013.

Not applicable — species only described in December 2015.

 

2.5. National Sensitive Species List, 2010

Not applicable — species only described in December 2015.

 

2.6. Western Cape Province, Nature Conservation Ordinance 19 of 1974, as amended by Proclamation 24 of 1992

“Genus Colophon: All species” listed in Schedule 1 as Endangered Wild Animal.

 

 

3. Exploitation extent

Specimens of any and all Lucanidae (stag beetles) have for many decades been probably the most sought-after beetles among armchair and safari collectors in affluent communities. A simple Google search will reveal the enormous extent of international trade in stag beetles, both as dead, preserved specimens and as livestock. Two enduring trends in the trade of beetles are the following:

  1. Rare, scarce and other difficult-to-obtain beetle species are more valuable than commoner species or species that are easier to obtain, and rare and scarce beetle species command higher prices.
  2. Larger individual specimens within any collectable beetle species are more valuable than smaller specimens and command higher prices.

Among stag beetles worldwide, the species of Colophon (Cape Mountain Stag Beetles) are only of moderate size. They are, however, widely considered as among the rarest of all stag beetles, or even as the rarest of all stag beetle species in the world. They are frequently marketed and advertised as such. Colophon specimens are said to be particularly prized among beetle collectors.

All the species of the genus Colophon are endemic to the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Twenty-one species are presently known and considered valid. Wealthy armchair and safari collectors of beetles have a general aim to own a "complete" collection, meaning representative specimens of all the species and subspecies within a focal taxonomic group, in this case the genus Colophon.

For perhaps more than a century and a half already, "gentleman collectors" have been advised of what species are potentially available for them to obtain through catalogues, more often than not published by purveyors of deadstock. This practice reached its pinnacle with the luxurious and exceptionally expensive books published since 1999 by Taita Publishers in the Czech Republic. The Taita books clearly serve both as appetisers for the wealthy beetle collector and as modern shopping catalogues, brilliantly designed and illustrated, representing the gamut of what an armchair collector would like to obtain for his collection in order for it to become "complete". For the Lucanidae (stag beetles) of Africa, Taita published in 2004 a truly magnificent book (Bartolozzi & Werner 2004), wherein the 16 species and non-nominotypical subspecies of the genus Colophon known at the time were "advertised" with large and magnificent photographs.

Evidence for trade in Colophon species

This genus is popular in trade and there is demand from international markets for the collection of rare and endemic Colophon species as indicated by media news reports and several online marketplace, e-commerce, and auction sites. In 2004, arrests were made for the poaching and possession of endangered Colophon species, a genus known to be valuable to international collectors (Planet Ark, 2004; Pretoria News, 2004; Sunday Times, 2004). The above assessments suggests that the genus is being targeted and that this species may be at risk. See attached files for further trade evidence.

4. References

Bartolozzi L, Werner K (2004) Illustrated Catalogue of the Lucanidae from Africa and Madagascar. Taita Publishers, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic. 191 pp. Book homepage at publisher.

Jacobs CT, Scholtz CH, Strümpher WP (2015) Taxonomy of Colophon Gray (Coleoptera: Lucanidae): new species and a status change. Zootaxa 4057(1): 135–142. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4057.1.9.

Population vulnerability
Unknown
Targeted demographics
Mature (breeding) individuals are killed, significantly weakened or are permanently removed from the wild, OR immature individuals are targeted and this significantly impacts mature (breeding) individuals.
Regeneration potential
This species has a slow population growth rate, or the growth rate varies depending on habitat, and there is a poor chance the wild populations will recover from exploitation OR a collector might feasibly harvest the entire extant population removing the chance of subsequent recruitment.
Justification and references

No information exists about the regeneration potential of this species. However, as the genus is known to be targeted and other species are threatened with over-collection, this species may be susceptible to decline through collection whereby recovery may be poor.