Assessor: Brenda Daly
According to the IUCN Red List Assessment, this species is Critically Endangered as it is known from a single location that is experiencing population decline due to the threat of illegal collection of mature individuals for the international trade in ornamental succulents as well as anthropogenic climate change (Young 2022). This is likely to increase in the future as this species is in high demand by collectors and the number of species and volume of plants targeted within the genus since 2019 has increased (Young 2022). As of 2019, this genus has become popular in trade and there is a high demand from international and domestic horticultural markets for wild collected plants as indicated by media, police reports and several online marketplace, e-commerce, and auction sites (Friedman 2021; Tshuma 2021; Trenchard 2021; Hyman 2020; Young 2020). Plants of this genus were among those targeted and confiscated during a recent criminal prosecution of illegal plant collecting (SANBI Scientific Authority database) (Majikela 2020; Myburgh 2021). There has been several recorded confiscations of the species and others of the genus from illegal plant collection (Confiscation Lists (2019-2021) provided by Cape Nature, SANBI Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden, SANBI Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, SANParks Sendelingsdrift Botanic Garden and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment). There is a high demand for cultivated and wild plants as it is not readily available in the horticultural trade because it is very slow growing from seed (C. Rodgerson, T. Smale pers. obs.). The entire plant would be removed during wild collecting as it is a very small, solitary growing plant and doesn't form clusters where a cutting could be taken. This all suggests that this species and genus is being targeted and that this species may be threatened with over-collection.
Friedman, B. 2021. 24 May 2021. South Africa targeted for rare plant poaching placing biodiversity at risk. Cape Talk. Available at: https://www.capetalk.co.za/articles/417213/south-africa-targeted-for-rare-plant-poaching-placing-biodiversity-at-risk
Hyman, A. 2020. 1 February 2020. Koreans fined R5m as poachers target SA's succulent treasure chest. Times Live. Available at: https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2020-02-01-koreans-fined-r5m-as-poachers-target-sas-succulent-treasure-chest/
Majikela, M. 2020. 31 January 2020. Hefty sentencing for possession of Conophytum plants. Media Statement. South African Police Service Office of the Provincial Commissioner Western Cape. Available at: https://www.saps.gov.za/newsroommsspeechdetail.php?nid=24491
Myburgh, A. 2021. 20 January 2021. Man behind bars for possession of endangered plants (Conophytum). Media Statement South African Police Service, Office of the Provincial Commissioner North West. Available at: https://www.saps.gov.za/newsroom/msspeechdetail.php?nid=24491
Trenchard, T. 2021. 31 July 2021. In South Africa, Poachers Now Traffic in Tiny Succulent Plants. The New York Times. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/31/world/africa/south-africa-poachers-tiny-succulent-plants.html
Tshuma, N. 2021. 20 May 2021. Collectors drive a spike in theft of indigenous plants in the Western Cape. IOL. Available at: https://www.iol.co.za/capeargus/news/collectors-drive-a-spike-in-theft-of-indigenous-plants-in-the-western-cape-e120f529-741b-43a7-8454-cb8f69544878
Young, A.J. 2020. Conophytum armianum S.A.Hammer. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1.
Young, A.J. & Victor, J.E. 2015. Conophytum achabense S.A.Hammer. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2017.1. http://redlist.sanbi.org/species.php?species=115-4.
Young, A. 2022. (assessment in prep 2022) Conophytum achabense. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
This taxon is known from a single population with an estimated population size of up to 50 000 mature individuals (Young 2022). 5 900 plants were removed from habitat between 2019-2021 with more likely but not intercepted (Young 2022).
Young, A. 2022. (assessment in prep 2022) Conophytum achabense . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Whole individuals are recorded in confiscations.
There is only one know population, it is very slow growing from seed (C. Rodgerson, T. Smale pers. obs.) and collectors may harvest a significant portion of the population thereby reducing recruitment.
Hammer, S.A. 1993. The genus Conophytum: A conograph. Succulent Plant Publications, Pretoria.