There are more than 300 species of cycads in the world, with 38 living in South Africa. In the past 20 years, numbers have fallen significantly, with three species now extinct in the wild and 12 critically endangered, which mean they face a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
The biggest threat – 80% - is people stealing them from the wild for use in private gardens. Habitat destruction and harvesting for medicinal use are also factors. Like succulents, they transplant fairly well, which is part of the problem. In the early 18th century, many plants were collected for European botanical gardens and survived being shipped there. Traders price cycads by centimeter of stem and the rarer and bigger they are, the higher the price – anything up to $300 a centimeter.
Cycads are protected under certain regulations, and you need a permit to possess and grow them. Make sure the seller is registered with the relevant authority and support your local supplier.