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Wildlife Trade Specialists

Published 28th December 2010

Kalwerbossie features as IUCN threatened species of the day

Cambridge, UK, 28th December 2010—Kalwerbossie, better known by its scientific name, Pelargonium sidoides, features today on the IUCN Red List website of threatened animal and plant species.


Pelargonium sidoides, IUCN's threatened species of the day, is at risk of over-harvesting

P. sidoides is endemic to and used traditionally in Lesotho and South Africa to treat colic, diarrhoea and other digestive disorders.

However, it is notoriously slow-growing and scientists and governments in importing countries raised concern over the sustainability of the P. sidoides supplies because of the large quantities apparently traded.

In 2003, TRAFFIC conducted an assessment of the sustainability of the harvest and found that although trade did not imminently threaten P. sidoides, the species was under potential longer term threat owing to the very slow re-growth of root material left in the ground by harvesters and the danger of complete root removal as a result of unmanaged follow-up harvesting.

But subsequent work revealed an unregulated and undocumented P. sidoides industry in Lesotho, while other sources reported illegal harvesting of the species from protected areas within South Africa. This led to TRAFFIC being asked to facilitate collaboration between government regulators in South Africa and Lesotho and other stakeholders to ensure sustainability of wild sourced P. sidoides as well as the livelihoods of local people and industries dependent upon supplies.

Harvesting of P. sidoides subsequently featured in a project on the implementation of FairWild Standard guidelines, the results of which were written up in Wild for a Cure: Ground-truthing a standard for sustainable management of wild plants in the field.

“We are delighted IUCN has chosen to feature Pelargonium sidoides as its threatened species of the day, today,” said Anastasia Timoshyna, TRAFFIC’s Medicinal Plant Programme Co-ordinator.

“It is a species that featured several times in the access and benefit sharing [ABS] discussions at last October’s meeting of the Convention of Biological Diversity, and TRAFFIC welcomes the resulting ‘Nagoya Protocol on ABS’, which will provide the much needed international regulatory framework to stop biopiracy of wild plant resources such as Pelargonium sidoides.”