These twin Aloe peglerae plants in habitat give an idea of the exposed world of these critically endangered aloes in the Magaliesberg and a few places close-by. The quartzite rocks allow shallow-rooted grass in gravelly soil where the trees are reduced to stunted shrubs or absent from the rounded mountain tops and north-facing upper slopes.
The steeper southern slopes are different. Many trees and shrubs grow well here but A. peglerae is less or hardly seen. The ecological highlights of this land are spectacular thunderstorms in summer, grass fires in winter drought and a remarkable range of indigenous plants.
Left undisturbed by people, the aloes would be fine. Continued illegal harvesting of the slow-growing, long-lived plants that take a couple of decades to mature, has set the population in habitat back at an alarming rate since the late twentieth century. The plants live between 30 and 40 years under normal conditions.
Transplanted from nature they often don’t do well or die. Even too much seed collection from the wild adds risk to sustaining the plant population’s coming generations.
On the bright side, small parts of the distribution range are protected land. And as more information becomes available, threatened species acquire more protectors doing what is needed for improving the survival probabilities of their protégé species. Such tasks are worth doing, succeed by concerted effort ((Van Wyk and Smith, 2003; Jeppe, 1969; Reynolds, 1974; iNaturalist; http://redlist.sanbi.org).