Psammobates geometricus

Assessor: Krystal Tolley

Sensitive in 2010
No
Family
TESTUDINIDAE
This species is either similar to another sensitive species or belongs to a group containing sensitive species, and is extremely rare in the wild. The localities of wild populations need to be protected to avoid loss to exploitation, which, due to its rarity, could drive the species to extinction within a very short time.
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

Psammobates geometricus is a CITES Appendix I listed species and trade is strictly regulated. CITES trade statistics show that just over 100 wild caught individuals were exported from South Africa between 1975 and 2015, all of which were recorded as being for scientific purposes rather than trade. If there are high numbers in trade, there are no matching CITES exports recorded suggesting such trade is not legal. In general, tortoises are popular in the international pet trade and numerous species are illegally collected and smuggled across the world each year (e.g. Rosen & Smith 2010, Auliya et al. 2016). In the international market various species of South African tortoises are regularly found, many with dubious origins (Auliya et al. 2016).  Psammobates geometricus has been collected illegally, but the extent and trend of this is unknown (Henen et al., 2013; Hofmeyr & Baard 2016).

 

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

The species is thought to be in decline due to habitat loss and might total less than than 2500 individuals (Hofmeyr and Baard 2016).

 

Targeted demographics
Unknown.
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

Psammobates geometricus males matures between 8 and 10 years with females maturing between 11 and 13 years (Baard 1995). They have a long generation time which has been estimated in the region of 30 years (Hofmeyr & Baard 2016). These factors coupled with low egg and hatchling survivability (possibly up to 99% mortality in the first year) (Hofmeyr & Baard 2016) clearly indicate that Psammobates geometricus has low regeneration potential. This species conservative reproductive strategy implies that P. geometricus has a low rate of population growth and that change in habitat and climate, fire frequency, increased predation and any form of collection of individuals from the wild would therefore impact this species regeneration potential severely. 

Reference file