This page has been developed for guidance only. Anyone planning to collect, grow or trade Hoodia must contact the local Nature Conservation Office to verify requirements. See contact details below.

This note has been compiled to promote the sustainable use of Hoodia in South Africa and to ensure that the indigenous people of South Africa benefit from the commercial development of products based on their traditional knowledge.

Hoodia is a genus of succulent plants in the family Apocynaceae that is widely used traditionally by the San people of southern Africa as an appetite suppressant, thirst quencher and as a cure for severe abdominal cramps, haemorrhoids, tuberculosis, indigestion, hypertension and diabetes. Various uses have been recorded among Anikhwe (Northern Botswana), Hai om (northern Namibia ), Khomani (north western South Africa ), and the !Xun and Khwe (originally from Angola ) communities. Less is known about the use of this group of plants by other indigenous people, but some records show limited use of Hoodia parts as food items, albeit not as preferred food items. Hoodias are known to be used for cultural purposes in some areas (Hargreaves and Turner, 2002). Although relatively difficult to cultivate, Hoodia ' s are attractive plants and are also used for horticultural purposes.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa isolated an active compound (P57) for appetite suppression from H. gordonii . The CSIR licensed the rights for further development of P57 and the setting up of a sustainable production system to Phytopharm in the UK . Phytopharm in turn sub licensed the rights to Pfizer for the development and global commercialization. Pfizer has recently returned the clinical developmental rights.

In terms of a benefit sharing agreement with the CSIR, all the San communities in the range States will benefit from the development of P57.

Hoodia is being widely marketed as a commercial appetite suppressant. Some of the trade in Hoodia is illegal in terms of regulations in southern African countries and may also infringe on patent rights and benefit sharing agreements. This document provides information on Hoodia to promote sustainable and fair trade in Hoodia products .

Hoodia species occur in summer rainfall areas in Angola, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa as well as winter rainfall areas in Namibia (MET 2002). Only one species if found east of 26 degrees longitude, i.e H. currorii subsp. lugardii , which occurs in Botswana and the Limpopo province of South Africa. The centres of diversity for Hoodia are in Namibia (11 taxa) and South Africa (9 taxa).

Although the genus Hoodia is widespread in southern Africa, herbarium records indicate that Hoodia gordonii only occurs in South Africa and Namibia . Any claims about other areas of distribution should be verified by a competent taxonomist.

Cultivation trials are currently underway in South Africa (under the auspices of the CSIR) and on a small scale in Namibia (National Botanical Research Institute). At present, only a small quantity of material has been harvested from cultivated material.
Some species of Hoodia occur in very large populations over large areas. This includes H. gordonii , which is the species most sought after for trade. There are, however, other closely related species that are less abundant, occurring in isolated patches with an overall low density, and a relatively small distribution range. A relatively common feature is that most species have patchy distributions. The threatened status for some Hoodia species has been assessed recently (see Table) and ten of the 16 taxa have been classified as threatened in these assessments.

TAXON NAME Range States STATUS 1997 STATUS 2002
Hoodia alstonii (N.E.Br.) Plowes NA, ZA nt VU (NA)
H. currorii (Hook.) Decne. subsp. currorii NA LR
H. currorii (Hook.) Decne. subsp. lugardii (N.E.Br.) Bruyns BO, ZA, ZM? nt
H. dregei N.E.Br. ZA R
H. flava (N.E.Br.) Plowes NA, ZA nt LR
H. gordonii (Masson) Sweet ex Decne. NA, ZA nt LR
H. juttae Dinter NA R VU
H. officinalis (N.E.Br.) Plowes subsp. delaetiana (Dinter) Bruyns NA R EN
H. officinalis (N.E.Br.) Plowes subsp. officinalis NA, ZA nt
H. parviflora N.E. Br NA LC
H. pedicellata (Schinz) Plowes NA VU
H.pilifera (L.f.) Plowes subsp. annulata (N.E.Br.) Bruyns ZA R
H. pilifera (L.f.) Plowes subsp. pilifera ZA R
H. pilifera (L.f.) Plowes subsp. pillansii (N.E.Br.) Bruyns ZA V
H. ruschii Dinter NA I VU
H. triebneri (Nel) Bruyns NA R VU

BO = Botswana , NA = Namibia , ZA = South Africa , ZM = Zimbabwe
EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable, LR = Low Risk, LC = Least Concern (IUCN categories of threat, 1994)
R = Rare, V = Vulnerable, I = Indeterminate, nt = not threatened (IUCN categories of threat, pre-1994)

Hoodia species, including H. gordonii, are protected species in southern Africa . This means that permits are required for certain activities.

· Hoodia gordonii does not occur in Botswana . Other Hoodia species are protected by the Agricultural Resources Conservation Act [CAP. 35:06]. Regulations for harvesting of veld products were published on 26 March 2004.

· H. gordonii , as well as other species of Hoodia , are listed as protected species in Namibia .
· No harvesting is permitted until Namibia has reviewed the status of Hoodia species (national policy framework in progress).
· Namibian authorities are concerned that collectors are harvesting illegally and that the wrong species are being harvested (i.e. not H. gordonii )

South Africa

According to current records, the natural distribution range of H. gordonii in South Africa is only in the Northern Cape province . There are also reports of other sites in the Western Cape .

Northern Cape Province :
· H. gordonii , as well as other Hoodia species, are listed as protected species under the Environmental Conservation Ordinance No.19 of 1974.
· No one is allowed to harvest, collect, damage, collect seeds, trade (import or export) or transport any Hoodia material without a valid permit from the Permit Section of the Directorate of Conservation Service in the Northern Cape .
· Cultivation requires a relevant permit from the same Permit Section.
· Any export also requires a phyto-sanitary certificate. Phyto-sanitary certificates can be obtained from the National Department of Agriculture

Western Cape Province
· Conservation status and permit requirements are the same as in the Northern Cape Province .

In terms of Nature Conservation Ordinance 19 of 1974 for ANYONE to trade in Hoodia (or any protected flora), that person will need to be registered and licensed by the Western Cape Nature Conservation Office. Any party involved in the commercial trade of Hoodia , whether it is the primary grower (who grows and harvests the material for sale) or the end seller (who buys it from the grower for processing and resale) must be registered and licensed. Furthermore, an export permit is required to export Hoodia in any form (raw or processed) out of the Province (an Ordinance permit) and out of the country (a CITES permit).


CITES listing:

Botswana , Namibia , and South Africa submitted a proposal to the 14th Conference of the Parties of CITES to list all species of Hoodia on Appendix II. This proposal was accepted in January 2005 and it is now prohibited to trade in any parts and derivatives of any Hoodia species without a permit. A permit can only be obtained from the relevant permitting authorities of each country and can only be issued for trade in cultivated plants or wild plants where the trade can be shown not to have a detrimental effect on wild populations (a CITES non-detriment finding). The listing of Hoodia makes provision for exemption from CITES permits where traders participate in controlled harvesting and production systems in collaboration with the CITES Management Authorities of Botswana/Namibia/South Africa, but no such agreements are yet in place. Importing countries must ensure that a valid CITES export permit has been issued by the country of origin for any trade.

Further information is available from the CITES website:

Ms Budzanani Nsoso
Agricultural Resources Board
Private Bag 00424

Tel. +267 395 0740

Dr Pauline Lindeque (PhD)
Director Scientific Services
Ministry of Environment and Tourism
Private Bag 13306
Windhoek , NAMIBIA
Tel: +264 61 263131 Fax: +264 61 259101

Or: Pierre du Plessis,

Sonja Loots
National Botanical Research Institute
Private Bag X13184, Windhoek

South Africa :
Northern Cape :
Maxie Jonk (Permit Section)
Directorate of Conservation Service
Private Bag X5018
South Africa

Conservation status:
Elsabe Powell
Directorate of Conservation Service
Private Bag X5018
South Africa

Western Cape
Permit section:
Contact person: Deon Hignett,

Dr Marthinus Horak
P.O. Box 3095\
Pretoria 0001
South Africa
+27 -12- 841 2670

June 2005 Wendy Foden

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