Within the Selati Game Reserve, there exists an area home to one of the rarest cycad species in the world. These cycads are listed under CITES Appendix I, which are critically endangered. Part of the Lillie hills, located to the south of the Reserve, is home to the only known colony of Encephalartos dyerianus on the planet. In partnership with the Limpopo Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET), a proposal to re-establish and expand the population within new suitable areas has been approved.
With input from Arnold Frisby, a plant ecologist from Pretoria University, Chris Oosthuizen and Selati Wilderness Foundation Chair, Alan du Toit, a Cycad proposal has been compiled for LEDET. The proposal recommends and requests the establishment of a Cycad nursery on Selati. The report outlines a strategy to actively cultivate E. dyerianus cycad seedlings to augment the population in the current habitat and to establish new populations at suitable sites on Selati. This involves the pollination and collection of seed from the Lillie Flora Nature Reserve for controlled germination within a dedicated on-site nursery, before planting it in the wild.
The SWF applied to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for a 12-month grant to protect the cycads and assist LEDET in this endeavour. The grant has been approved by the IUCN, with the funds directed towards the protection and remote monitoring of the cycads, as well as improving facilities on the ground for the guards.
The cycads have been under continual threat from poaching, and this initiative should contribute to the survival of this species, the only known site in the wild which is within the Selati Game Reserve.