10 February 2007

Species of the Week, 11 Feb 2007

Dlinza Forest Pinwheel (Trachycystis clifdeni)

This is a beautiful snail, confined to an itty-bitty piece of forest in South Africa. Before you read any further, get an idea of just how small this little mollusc's habitat is.

Click here to open a map. Look at the little triangle of forest, just below the green arrow, stuck in the fork of the road. That's Dlinza forest, in the midst of the urban envirnoment of the nearby town of Eshowe, and the only place where the Dlinza Forest Pinwheel is known to live. Now zoom out one click at a time, until you can see all of South Africa, and realize just how tiny an area that is. Only about 250 hectares.

The name of the forest, Dlinza, reflects its past and present. This little piece of forest, once served as a burial site for fallen Zulu warriors during the Anglo-Zulu War. Today, the area is protected by KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife and provides a haven for several interesting and rare species of wildlife. In Zulu, the word idlinza can be used as a noun, meaning grave or sepulchre, or as a verb, meaning meditation and thought.

Not much is known about this species, or, more accurately, not much is known about this species that has been published, other than a few paragraphs in a 2004 field guide. It lives in the understorey, among downed logs, fallen leaves, or in damp and swampy areas.

Listed as critically endangered, the main concerns for this species are its small range, and its location near to an urban environment.

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