Despite its close resemblance to an earth worm, the Sagalla caecilian is actually a limbless amphibian.
Spends most of its life below ground and is adapted for a burrowing lifestyle – its eyes are covered by a protective skin, it has a strong, bony head for pushing through the soil, and possesses sensory tentacles either side of its head to detect the chemical signals from its prey.
Lays eggs, which the females guard until they hatch. This species may (like its close relative the Taita African caecilian, Boulengerula taitanus) feed its newly hatched young on its own skin.
Only found on Sagalla Hill in the Taita Hills of south-east Kenya, in an area less than half the size of Manhattan Island.
The Sagalla caecilian is a restricted range species, occupying a single location of less than 30 km2. The continued decline in the quality of it habitat has led to this species being classified as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List.
The removal of streamside vegetation in the Sagalla caecilian’s habitat has resulted in flooding and much soil erosion is areas where this species is known to breed.
Increased use of pesticides in its range may present a serious threat to this species.
The Sagalla caecilian does not seem to occur in areas of its range where eucalyptus plantations have been established.
Controlling soil erosion within the range of this species by planting native vegetation around streams and on steep slopes.
Funding an EDGE Fellow to collect more data on the population ecology, behaviour and threats to this species because so little is currently known – this information can then be used to create a Conservation Action Plan.
An investigation into the possibility of establishing a captive research and breeding programme.
EDGE aims to support further research into this relatively unknown species,
and to help habitat restoration on the Sagalla Hill via the planting of native
The Sagalla caecilian is found in just one location – the Sagalla Hill in the Taita Hills
of south-east Kenya – in an area less than half the size of Manhattan Island. This
species spends most of its life below ground, and is adapted for this burrowing lifestyle
by having eyes protected by skin, a strong bony head for pushing through the soil, and
sensory tentacles on either side of their head to detect the chemical signals of its prey.
Having laid her eggs, the female Sagalla caecilian will guard these until they hatch,
and may even feed the newly hatched young on her own skin like its close relative, the
Taita African caecilian.
There are a number of threats causing degradation of the Sagalla caecilian’s habitat including
streamside erosion as a result of vegetation removal and pollution from increased pesticide use.
Furthermore, the species does not appear to occur in any areas where eucalyptus plantations have
been established. As a result of these threats, and the restricted range of this caecilian, the
species has been classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
EDGE would like to fund further research into the population ecology, behaviour and threats of the
Sagalla caecilian through a local EDGE Fellow, information which is vital to the creation of a
successful Conservation Action Plan. Habitat restoration is necessary on the Sagalla Hill, and EDGE
hopes to help replace the current eucalyptus plantations with natural vegetation, and to reduce current
levels of soil erosion by planting vegetation along streams and on steep slopes.
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