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Albany adders in South Africa

Funding for this project has now finished

Albany adders suffer as infrastructure increases

South Africa is home to critically endangered Albany adders, a species of dwarf adder. With only 17 known records, this is one of the world’s rarest snakes. Added to which, their only known location is under threat from opencast mining, wind turbine and road developments. 

Albany adders are closely linked to a particular type of vegetation called Coega Bontveld. There’s not much of it left, and two thirds of it is right in the middle of the mining area. Extinction hovers for the adders without urgent intervention.

Bitis albanica - Albany Adder in situ - 30th March 2019. Albany adders

Working with landowners to save Albany adders

With our support, the Endangered Wildlife Trust and others are working closely with the cement company that owns much of the land. Using computer modelling, verified by actual surveying on the ground, the team is urgently searching for other remaining populations. If discovered, the landowners will be asked to enter stewardship agreements with the South African conservation authorities. The agreements secure long-term protection for the adders. Land purchase is also an option. 

The team is half way through its work. They’re still busy surveying for remaining, suitable habitat and, excitingly, have found another single specimen. Farmer owners of the surrounding land are mostly positive, granting access for the work. This bodes well should stewardship agreements be required.

The future of Albany adders remains very uncertain. But we’re doing all that we can.

Albany adders

Latest news

We are now half way through this project and the team are mapping out where there may be suitable habitat to find new populations of the adders. They are also working with the landowners who own those patches to get them on board with the project. These farmers – who typically own land about 200ha – have been mostly positive and giving access which is great news. One new rare specimen has been found and DNA samples taken. 

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