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Conservation of amphibians in Africa

Amphibians are one of the most threatened animal groups worldwide. Threats range from over-exploitation for food or the pet trade to pollution, climate change, disease, habitat loss and degradation. As a result, amphibians are often considered to be good indicators to wider ecosystem health.

Information on Africa is patchy, but some countries such as Cameroon have as many as 200 species of amphibians, a third of which are assessed to be threatened by the IUCN (a number which is only likely to increase over time). These species are mostly restricted to mountain tops, where impoverished but enterprising communities impact natural habitats.

Mount Oku in Cameroon – where RZSS is currently working – is one such example. Here, our scientists are working with species including the Lake Oku clawed frog (Xenopus longipes), which lives in only one small lake and is assessed to be Critically Endangered due to the threat of fish introduction. Two other critically endangered frogs also live on Mount Oku, but in the sub-alpine grasslands near the summit: the toad Wolterstorffina chirioi and the spiny puddle frog (Phrynobatrachus chukuchuku).

Where possible, we work to shed light on little known species and their habitats. For example, we have intensified work on burrowing, snake-like caecilian amphibians, which until now have been rarely studied. Similarly, we have explored forests and other habitats which have never or seldom been surveyed. We also help speed up the descriptions, refine taxonomy and understand evolutionary relationships of amphibian species so we know how to prioritise conservation action.

More recently, RZSS has expanded its amphibian research and conservation work to the Budongo Conservation Field Station in Uganda.


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Project Gallery

  • Lake Oku, Cameroon

  • Corixids (water boatmen), Lake Oku

  • In search of caecilians amidst Mundame's rubber plantations

  • Caecilian, Crotaphatrema lamottei, Mt Oku, Cameroon

  • Fulani hut, on the Ijim Ridge section of Mt Oku.

  • Dead Lake Oku Clawed Frog

  • Long fingered frog, Cameroon

  • Reed frog, Budongo forest

  • Hairy frog, Cameroon

  • Spiny toad, Cameroon

  • Squeaker frog, Budongo

  • Rocket frogs, Budongo forest

  • Toad, farm outside the Budongo Forest

  • Tree frog, Cameroon

Project update from CRAAUC - November 2016

Project coordinator Thomas, joined local PhD student,  Arnaud from the University of Yaounde, in a search for the critically endangered egg frog on Mount Bamboutos.

Mount Bamboutos is an unprotected mountain that is home to many threatened Cameroon mountain species and is the only know location of the critically endangered egg frog (Leptodactylodon axillaris). While the search was successful, this visit also showed that the natural habitat is under severe pressure from deforestation, with large areas being cleared for crops.

Thomas and Arnaud have been meeting with other Cameroonian conservationists to discuss the various problems and to try to work out solutions. Through Arnaud’s local knowledge and by working with the local communities we hope that these rare species and their habitats can be saved.

Photos from Mount Bamboutos

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