Manticora werneri

Assessor: Riaan Stals

Sensitive in 2010
No
Family
Carabidae
Exploitation extent
Significant - wild individuals of the species are known to be exploited, collected, traded or utilized in a targeted manner, and utilisation is widespread, affects the majority of wild populations and/or is causing rapid decline of the wild population.
Justification and references

 

1. Taxonomy

Manticora werneri Mareš, 2000

FAMILY Carabidae, SUBFAMILY Cicindelinae (tiger beetles)

Note: The spelling "Mantichora" is invalid, but frequently seen.

The English vernacular name 'Monster Tiger Beetles' is sometimes used for the genus collectively, or for any one of the respective Manticora species.

 

Taxon concept: The species concept employed here is that of Mareš (2000, 2002).

  • This is a problematic species that may in future be shown to be invalid. Unfortunately, all the type specimens of this nominal species are encarcerated in the private collection of Jaroslav Mareš in the Czech Republic. They may never become available for critical study, and this species name may be heading for the status of being inapplicable.
    It is unclear how Mareš got hold of the type material, but in the original description (Mareš 2000) he thanks a well-known beetle dealer for providing the "necessary material". Oddly, the holotype and at least some paratypes were supposedly collected in 1947. Because of bad typesetting in the original description, it is unclear which specimens are paratypes and which are not, but of prime importance is that the holotype is from South Africa, meaning that the type locality is in South Africa. Other specimens purportedly belonging to this nominal species have been recorded from Namibia.
  • The reported distribution of this species (Mareš 2000, 2002) seems to be highly unlikely, but I think I have cracked the mystery: the type locality is not in the Little Karoo, as reported, but in Bushmanland. Please see 'Population vulnerability' below for details about this.

 

Comments on Manticora taxonomy and politics. 

The taxonomy of Manticora is a notoriously difficult problem, as reviewed by Oberprieler & Arndt (2000). These authors argued that "it is hard to defend the existence of more than five natural species in Manticora, the eight or even ten as recognized by Wiesner (1992) and Mareš (1995), respectively, representing a purely typological approach and classification system." (page 88). Two years later, Mareš (2002) increased the (nominal) species in the genus to a full thirteen, of which eight occur in the Republic of South Africa.

      Mareš's (2002) delimitations and circumscriptions of his 13 Manticora species are fraught with problems. Many of these nominal species are based on labile characters and homoplastic character states. Several of these nominal species cannot confidently be discriminated from each other. Some whole character systems are disregarded, while there is an overemphasis on the morphology of the enlarged mandibles, which show elements of allometry that Mareš (2002) did not take into account. No objective analysis was performed; the "phylogeny" [sic] presented by Mareš (2002) is a fanciful pretty-picture. A thorough, detailed and comprehensive systematic revision of the genus is still required to establish the real number of Manticora species and their delimitation. Oberprieler & Arndt (2000) had earlier recommended some essential approaches to obtain this goal, while warning against reliance on superficial morphological features and confusing sympatric distribution patterns, among others. Mareš (2002) did not heed their call, carried on regardless, and split the genus---at that stage already oversplit---into even more seemingly artificial species.

      Despite these shortcomings, I propose that the National Sensitive Species List accepts for Manticora the scheme and the species identities as they appear in Mareš's (2002) book. My reason for this is not misplaced trust therein that Mareš (2002) "had the last say" and happens to have presented the most recent treatment of the genus. My reason is pragmatic: Mareš's (2002) book is most certainly the reference consulted and trusted by everybody who may be involved in the poaching, selling, buying and armchair collecting of specimens of this genus. Both the sellers and the buyers of charismatic beetles prefer genera to be split into many species: that gives the purveyor a larger diversity to sell, and the purchaser a wider selection to invest in and show off to hir friends, quite regardless of the possible un-naturalness of the traded taxa.

      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, beautiful and exceptionally expensive books published since 1999 by Taita Publishers in the Czech Republic.

      The books published by Taita clearly serve both as appetisers for the wealthy beetle collector and as modern shopping catalogues, copiously illustrated with large photographs on thick glossy paper, representing the gamut of what an armchair collector would like to buy for his collection in order for it to become "complete". Inasmuch, these books serve as the vade mecum to both safari collectors and to dealers in beetle deadstock. It is telling that the cofounder of Taita Publishers, as well as its most prolific author, was the late Karl 'Charly' Werner, somebody who was an unashamed beetle dealer and who over decades spent large amounts of time in Africa collecting rare beetles [or purportedly rare beetles] to sell at astonishing prices in the northern hemisphere. Werner never made any secret of his occupation and the source of his wealth.

      Mareš's expensive 2002 book is another exceptionally well produced book by Taita Publishers that seems to have been published primarily to serve the above aims, rather than contribute to objective scientific progress.
 

 

2. Prior, existing or proposed conservation status

 

2.1. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Not evaluated.

REFERENCE: http://www.iucnredlist.org/search

 

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

Unlisted.

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

 

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

Listed as "Manticora spp. – all species" in category: Protected Species.

 

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.

Unlisted.

 

2.5. National Sensitive Species List, 2010

Unlisted.

 

3. Exploitation extent

Manticora tiger beetles are large, impressive beetles with outsize mandibles that protrude conspicuously anteriorly and laterally of the head. These mandibles are an exaggerated morphological feature that vary in size within each of the Manticora species. Within species the mandibles of the male are larger than those of the female, and frequently conspicuously asymmetrical. The beetles are all unicolorous dark brown to black, with a shiny integument.

(Sub-)populations of respective Manticora species appear to be localised and may appear small and disjunct. There are many anecdotes, published and unpublished, of large numbers of adult beetles appearing simultaneously after a well-timed rain shower, mostly in spring. Conversely, adult beetles may at a known locality not be seen for an entire summer season. They are flightless predators mostly encountered while running, rather fast and erratically.

The genus is restricted to southern Africa and south-central Africa. Eight species (sensu Mareš 2002) have been recorded from the Republic of South Africa.

Entomologists and beetle junkies have been fascinated with Manticora beetles ever since their discovery late in the 18th century. The history, mystery, mythology and adventure surrounding these creatures were elaborated on by Mareš (2002). They are popular among beetle collectors: every schoolchild collector wants one in hir collection; some people want more than one.

 

Evidence for trade in Manticora species

During January and February 2018 I scoured the internet for instances where any Manticora specimens were offered for sale, or where a such a transaction had been concluded. I found more than 30 such instances, a figure that is without quantitative meaning. As proof that trade in dead and living Manticora specimens does in fact take place, I list seven such instances below. Mindful of the ephemeral nature of webpages like these, I permanently archived caches of each. The respective caches can be seen by clicking on 'Click HERE'.

  • Keep in mind that the identifications of these beetles, as advertised, may be wrong. 
  • Although most of the beetles in the examples are indicated to have originated from other African countries, there is no reason why they could not have been sourced from South Africa (as long as they occur in South Africa, of course).
  • Prices for these beetles are indicated only in a minority of cases. Calculated at ordinary exchange rates as of 2017-02-28, the asking or selling price of these Manticora specimens ranged from c. ZAR 110-00 to c. ZAR 1,055-00 per specimen, shipment excluded.
  • As is the case always with trade in beetles, species perceived to be scarce command higher prices, as do large specimens, as do specimens with larger exaggerated mandibles, as do specimens in good condition (so-called 'A' or 'A1' specimens).

 

◘◘ The particular species identities of the Manticora in these examples are immaterial. This serves to exemplify a phenomenon. Read together with my notes above, one can argue that all [nominal] Manticora species are equally vulnerable to collection for trade. ◘◘

 

DEADSTOCK

  1. eurofauna.com     »»» Click HERE.
    Note that there are a number of different offerings of Manticora on this webpage. One can click to see the next page.
     
  2. beetlesofafrica (South African) No. 1 (of several)     »»» Click HERE.
     
  3. beetlesofafrica (South African) No. 2 (of several)     »»» Click HERE.

  4. eBay No. 1 (of many)     »»» Click HERE.
     
  5. eBay No. 2 (of many)     »»» Click HERE.
    Here it is necessary to scroll to the top and to translate from the Polish, either with a dictionary or with your browser's translation function.
     
  6. One of many Russian sites     »»» Click HERE.

 

LIVESTOCK

  • beetleforum.net     »»» Click HERE.
    A poorly formatted archive, but containing an interesting discussion. From there it seems that living Manticora specimens are readily obtainable for purchase at insect fairs in at least Germany and the United Kingdom.
         It should be noted that there are no reported or claimed instances where Manticora specimens were ever in captivity been successfully reared through all life stages; the inevitable result is the death of all captive animals. This matter was discussed by Oberprieler & Arndt (2000).

 

 

4. References

Mareš J (1995) Determination key to the males of the genus Manticora Fabricius 1792 (Coleoptera, Cicindelidae). Acta Coleopterologia 11: 47–54.

Mareš J (2000) Notes on some species of the genus Manticora Fabricius (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae: Manticorini) with the description of two new species. Acta Coleopterologia 16(1): 25–34, plus Errata on inserted slip.

Mareš J (2002) Manticora. A Monograph of the Genus. Taita Publishers, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic. 205 pp. Book homepage at publisher.

Oberprieler RG, Arndt E (2000) On the biology of Manticora Fabricius (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Cicindelinae), with a description of the larva and taxonomic notes. Tijdschrift voor Entomologie 143(1-2): 71–89. doi:10.1163/22119434-99900039◘Free PDF here.

Wiesner J (1992) Checklist of the tiger beetles of the world (Coleoptera, Cicindelidae). Verlag Erna Bauer, Keltern, Germany. 364 pp.

Population vulnerability
Population is vulnerable: size is <= 2500 mature individuals OR the number of known subpopulations is <= 5 OR range is <= 100km2 OR species at risk of localised extinctions
Justification and references

 

Please note the caveats about the taxonomy of the species of Manticora above.

The justification below relies fully and only on Mareš (2002). This author based his Manticora studies exclusively on specimens from six museums and nine private collections in Europe, completely disregarding all the many specimens in natural history collections in Africa. The specimens in African institutions need in future be (re-)identified, studied, and taken into account when future evaluations are done. Their identifications as they stand at present are not necessarily aligned with Mareš's system. These specimens were not taken into account in the justification below.

 

The following localities have in the literature (Mareš 2000, 2002) been associated with this nominal species:

  1. "Koa Valley, Little Karoo" -- holotype and two paratypes.
    I have traced the Koa River Valley to Bushmanland in the Northern Cape Province, south of Aggeneys, and not in the Little Karoo. Given that specimens were more recently collected in central Namibia, this interpretation of the type locality removes the unlikeliness of the distribution of the species as given by Mareš (2000, 2002).
  2. "Cape of Good Hope" -- a paratype specimen. This is an untraceable location.
  3. "Kuduberg", with no other locality information -- one specimen, possibly a paratype. This specimen was collected by the beetle dealer Colin R. Owen, who is known to have collected on a farm Kuduberg near Aus in the Karas Region, Namibia.
  4. The vicinity of Gobabis, Omaheke Region, Namibia -- specimens collected in 1995 and 1996 by a suspected South African beetle dealer.
  5. Apparently Otjiwarongo (not specified), assumedly the Otjiwarongo in the Omaheke Region, Namibia. (There are at least three places, far apart, called Otjiwarongo in Namibia). Mareš (2002) presented a habitat photograph from there, claiming it to be habitat of Manticora werneri, but I could find no specimen data or label data to support this notion. This locality is hence disregarded in the justification below.

It is important to disregard the distribution map given on page 46 of Mareš's (2002) book.

 

Justification

Manticora werneri is considered a vulnerable species for the following reason:

  1. The species is confirmed only from three locations, one in South Africa and two in Namibia. The number of known subpopulations is hence fewer than five.
  • The population size of this species is unknown.
  • No calculation of the range size of this species was made, but from simply plotting the putative localities of this species on a map is clear that the apparent range is very much larger than 100 km².
  • Mareš (2002) asserted that the "rarity" of this species is as follows: "In Namibia not rare, in southern R.S.A. most probably extinct."
         Mareš (2002) neglected to define "rare" and similar terms, and made no mention what this supposition was based on. Moreover, there is no reason to believe that the known South African population is extinct, for the Koa River Valley is not in "southern R.S.A." (mapped to the southern Cape and alleged to live in fynbos by Mareš (2002)), but in the Northern Cape, close to the Namibian border. Beetle collectors may have been searching in completely the wrong area, and them supposedly not finding the species could have led to Mareš (2002) declaring this population as "most probably extinct."
         For all these reasons these claims by Mareš (2002) should be disregarded.

 

References

Mareš J (2000) Notes on some species of the genus Manticora Fabricius (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae: Manticorini) with the description of two new species. Acta Coleopterologia 16(1): 25–34, plus Errata on inserted slip.

Mareš J (2002) Manticora. A Monograph of the Genus. Taita Publishers, Hradec Králové, Czech Republic. 205 pp. Book homepage at publisher.

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.
Justification and references

The trade in both dead and living beetles necessarily removes mature (adult) individuals from the wild. Please see above for links to examples.

Regeneration potential
Unknown
Justification and references

No information exists about the regeneration potential of this species.