Euryops walterorum, a declining restricted-range endemic of the Greater Gamsberg


  • C Treichel
  • BJ Strohbach Namibia University of Science and Technology
  • S Carr National Botanical Research Institute
  • S Loots National Botanical Research Institute
  • A Neckel


endemic plant, conservation status, Gamsberg, monitoring, Namibia, restricted range, Euryops walterorum


Euryops walterorum is a perennial shrub, endemic to an extremely limited habitat on the plateau of the Greater Gamsberg. The population of this endemic has been shown to be in decline since the early 1980s. The Gamsberg plateau is identified as one of the world’s best astronomical observatory sites and has been used as an astronomical base since 1971. Due to its position and favourable atmospheric conditions, the establishment of the Africa Millimetre Telescope is planned here. This development may adversely affect the population of Euryops walterorum. In this paper we present information on the ecology and habitat of this plant. We also speculate on possible reasons for the population’s decline. Based on this, we propose a long-term monitoring programme on the population health of this restricted-range endemic, as well as further measures for the conservation of the species. Preliminary results from the initial survey show the population stands in their habitat are unevenly distributed and most monitoring plots contained about two plants or less, and many had none. From the current plot data, the estimated total number of mature plants on the plateau was calculated to be about 22 000. Based on the observed reduction in population, as well as both the extremely small Extent of Occurrence and Area of Occupation, the conservation status of the species has been reassessed following IUCN Red List Criteria, and found to be Critically Endangered B1 ab(iii,iv) + 2ab(iii,v).

Author Biography

BJ Strohbach, Namibia University of Science and Technology

My interests lie in vegetation- and landscape ecology, ranging from baseline studies to applied management options. I am leading the Vegetation Survey of Namibia project, specifically aiming at providing a baseline description of the natural vegetation of Namibia. This project covers a large variety of climatic zones, landscapes and ecosystems in Namibia. Vegetation description and mapping is done at large (regional or landscape) scale, as well as at local small-scale studies on particular farm and/or conservancies. For management purposes, the vegetation is also described i.t.o. its suitability for livestock farming as well as its sensitivity to (potential) disturbance. Vegetation is not a stable feature of the landscape, but responds to anthropogenic pressure as well as climatic drivers. Changing climate has been experienced over the past years in Namibia, and future trends are uncertain. More extreme climatic conditions are predicted for the subcontinent - bigger rain storms, more heat extremes, but also more severe dry spells. To monitor the effect of such changing climate, we are engaged with long-term monitoring of vegetation throughout the country, in collaboration with the University of Hamburg and the Gobabeb Research and Training Centre. For the purpose of long-term monitoring we have 21 biodiversity observatories throughout the country on which we regularly resurvey the plant biodiversity. These biodiversity observatories are supplemented by a number of auxiliary observatories, in which we can monitor for very specific purposes like erosion, specific plant species and -stands or lichen cover. With the annual monitoring, large emphasis is placed on monitoring using repeat aerial photography using state-of-the-art UAV technology. This technology is also used for specific applications like mapping and monitoring alien invasive species stands, stands of endemic species, as well as monitoring erosion features, and the success rate of the rehabilitation of these erosion features. A special mention is to be made of an application in the mining industry, were we are monitoring the health and success of rehabilitation work at mines with UAV technology. With the UAV technology I am combining the interesting fields of botany, vegetation ecology, remote sensing and GIS into one. I am also a keen photographer of plants and landscapes, and have contributed extensively to online plant identification guides as well as for field identification guides in the past.

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Section A: Research articles