Assessor: Ian Engelbrecht
The burrowing scorpions of the genus Opistophthalmus appear in the international and local exotic pet trade with some regularity (see websites listed below for examples). The primary species traded are O. glabrifrons and O. wahlbergii, which are desired for their large size, impressive appearance, relatively placid demeanor, and ease of care. These scorpions are easily bred in captivity and animals sold in the trade are almost always of wild origin. While the species discussed here is not reported from the pet trade, it may be targeted by hobbyist collectors with a special interest in the genus. However, it would appear that interest in the 'thin-tailed' scorpions (scorpionids and hormurids) has decreased since around a decade ago in favor of keeping thick-tailed scorpions of the family Buthidae (pers. obs.) as they are easier to care for and breed in general.
The population size of this species is unknown but it's geographic range (Extent of Occurrence) extends over an area of approximately 650km2. It is endemic to the Saldanha peninsula on the west coast, where it occurs on limestone derived soils (Prendini 2001). Much of the natural habitat in this area has been transformed, with the possiblity that the historical range of this species is now fragmented.
The known distributions of scorpions are based on records published in Lamoral and Reynders (1975) and Prendini (1995), on ScorpionMap project on the ADU Virtual Museum, and on my own experience sampling scorpions across southern Africa for atlasing and taxonomic purposes. The estimate of the extent of occurrence for this species was prepared using Google Maps satellite imagery for identifying the extent of the region it occupies, using an online area calculation tool available at https://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-area-calculator-tool.htm.
Lamoral, B.H. and Reynders S.C. 1975. A catalogue of the scorpions described from the Ethiopian faunal region up to December 1973. Annals of the Natal Museum 33: 489-576.
Prendini, L. 1995. Patterns of scorpion distribution in southern Africa: a GIS approach. Unpublished BSc (Hons.) Thesis. University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Prendini, L. 2001. A review of synonyms and subspecies in the genus Opistophthalmus C.L. Koch
(Scorpiones: Scorpionidae). African Entomology 9(1): 17 – 48.
The species occurs over a relatively large geographic area, so any targetted harvesting only affects individual populations on particular habitat remnants. Given that this species is not as yet recorded in the pet trade, and that there is limited demand for specialized species such as this in the pet trade, this criterion is not relevant for assessing its sensitivity status.