Threatened Grasslands Species Programme

Sungazer Lizard Project

Sungazers are endemic to the central grasslands of South Africa occurring predominantly in the north-eastern Free State, with a small population extending into south-western Mpumalanga. They are classified as Vulnerable (IUCN) based on distribution data from 1978. However, the species is likely to be at a greater risk of extinction than is suggested by its IUCN status, given that these data are now out-dated. Sungazers are also listed on CITES Appendix II.

Current population estimates and the extent of the species distribution are unknown within these relatively arid grasslands dominated by crop and livestock agriculture. The entire distribution of the Sungazer falls within the Highveld Agricultural Region. The Sungazer is unusual as it does not live among rocks, but rather shelters in self-excavated grassland burrows that extend up to 420 mm below the soil surface and are prone to destruction during crop cultivation. Agricultural practises are therefore a major and direct threat to the species, destroying large tracts of habitat and creating fragmented, isolated populations.

Species poster - DOWNLOAD

Sungazer Factsheet - DOWNLOAD

Contact us

Bradley Gibbons: TGSP Field Officer / email: / cell: 082 566 5803