Understanding the impact of sap harvesting on dragon trees in Cape Verde

Gilson Carlos Sanches Semedo

The dragon tree (Dracaena draco; globally VU) is one of only five native trees of Cape Verde, and its Cape Verdean variant was recently described as a Critically Endangered sub-species endemic to the archipelago (Romeiras et al., 2012). The sap of the dragon tree is sought after locally as it is used in traditional medicine to help with aches, which means trees in the wild are ‘tapped’ in order to harvest the raw product. It is unknown how damaging or intensive this tapping is, and therefore what effect it has on population health of Cape Verde’s unique dragon trees. The goal of this internship is to understand how tapping impacts dragon trees on the island of Brava, and to make recommendations for its conservation. The intern will be encouraged to develop skills in species conservation management and be able to confidently present results, including communicating in English.