The CAMP process for South African mammals


South Africa is home to around 300 species of mammals, unsurprising given that the country ranks amongst the most biologically diverse countries in the world. In 2002, a Conservation Assessment and Management Plan process was initiated to update the South African National Red List of mammals, evaluating a total of 295 species. This way, the project could move beyond a simple extinction risk assessment for all terrestrial and marine mammals, to formulate recommendations for strategic conservation and management of threatened mammal species and their habitats as well as improve the effectiveness and synergy of existing conservation efforts. The following description of the assessment process is taken from Collen et al. (2013).

The update of the South African National Red List of mammals was coordinated and managed by CBSG Southern Africa, a regional CBSG network, and the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT). In January 2002, close to 90 South African mammal conservation practitioners, biologists and taxonomists were identified based on their knowledge of species and invited to participate in the South African Mammal CAMP.  The project steering committee identifying workshop participants comprised experts in relevant fields including zoology, Red Listing and/or project management. In its prime, the committee was 15 people strong.

Workshop participants were asked to collect relevant data on species within their areas of expertise and these data were submitted to the project manager in the required format using the IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group’s CAMP taxon datasheets (TDS). These data pertained to the species’ distribution, habitat, population status and trends, breeding and feeding characteristics, threats and other criteria relevant to the Red Listing process, and they also included all available references and research findings. The completed TDS were submitted in advance of the CAMP workshop in the form of hard copies of the TDS which were then collated and categorised according to species and sub-species in preparation for the workshop.

The CAMP workshop ran for six-days and was held in Johannesburg in March 2002. In total, 33 participants attended the workshop though data had been submitted prior to the workshop by an additional 27 contributors. A total of 35 organisations participated in the process, such as park authorities, research and academic institutions, non-governmental organisations, museums and governmental departments.  The workshop was preceded by a three-day training workshop in the application of the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria.  Participants were then asked to split into working groups based on taxonomic groupings to evaluate the data submitted to the project manager and assign an IUCN Red List category. The working groups produced a final, all-inclusive taxon datasheet for each species (and in some cases sub-species) within their taxonomic grouping, which was presented and discussed by the entire group in plenary, before a final assessment of the Red List category for each species or subspecies was made and entered into the electronic database.

Distribution maps to accompany and inform the assessments were compiled for all extant terrestrial species during and after the workshop by a dedicated GIS working group.  Post-workshop review and editing was carried out, specifically for species for which no consensus had been reached at the workshop, in a process very similar to that undertaken during global Red Listing.

Complementing the data collection and assessment process, participants collated a range of concerns and priorities based on the work and discussions of the workshop, as well as long-standing concerns of the South African mammal community, into four thematic working groups:

  • Public education and awareness
  • Information management and database initiative
  • Conservation management
  • Research and capacity building

Under each thematic working group, conservation goals were identified, with particular reference to actions needed to strengthen preparation of the next Red List update, and to decrease the risk of extinction of mammals and loss of biodiversity in South Africa. As a result, 20 key recommendations were made, ranging from the development of species-specific national management plans, the creation of monitoring initiatives and a national mammal survey, capacity building, inter-disciplinary research efforts and habitat restoration. Overall, the resulting publication went through almost 18 months of intensive internal and external data review and editing.