Amphibians are the most threatened vertebrates on Earth, with 41% of species assessed by the IUCN Red List as being at risk of extinction. Furthermore, amphibian populations are declining on every continent where they are found. The scope and severity of these declines make amphibian conservation, including in South Africa, a high priority issue. Almost 30% of our 135 South African frog species are considered threatened.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust is the only South African NGO focusing full-time on frog conservation, and our Threatened Amphibian Programme is conserving threatened amphibians and reptiles by actively addressing the key threats facing identified species. Our actions are guided by relevant research and in line with international best practice. We use threatened species as flagships to:
- protect the critical freshwater and terrestrial habitats they (and we) depend on
- improve the management of important amphibian habitat
- use research to monitor species and habitats to support conservation action
- promote behavioural change that reflects increased knowledge and recognition of the importance of frogs and their habitats in South Africa…and beyond!
Our flagship species
We run five projects across three provinces (the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal) (Figure 2). Our work focuses on the following flagship species:
- Pickersgill’s Reed Frog (Hyperolius pickersgilli) – Endangered
- Amathole Toad (Vandijkophrynus amatolicus) – Critically Endangered
- Table Mountain Ghost Frog (Heleophryne rosei) – Critically Endangered
- Kloof Frog (Natalobatrachus bonebergi) – Endangered
- Micro Frog (Microbatrachella capensis) – Critically Endangered
- Moonlight Mountain Toadlet (Capensibufo selenophos) – Critically Endangered
- Rough Moss Frog (Arthroleptella rugosa) – Critically Endangered
- Western Leopard Toad (Sclerophrys pantherina) – Endangered
- Albany Adder (Bitis albanica) – Endangered (we included reptiles under our portfolio in 2018 and are currently running a project to secure habitat for this species in the Eastern Cape.
While focusing on enhancing species and habitat protection and ecosystem integrity, driving innovative research to understand these systems better, we also collaborate extensively with the communities in each of the landscapes in which we work, aligning with each of the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Strategic Imperatives: Saving species, conserving habitats, and benefitting people.
Who we work with
Our work would not be possible without support from our funders, including the Rainforest Trust, IUCN, Synchronicity Earth, and Whitley Fund for Nature, and the wide range of partners we work with on a local, national, and international level. These partnerships range from other NGOs to research institutions to provincial conservation agencies. For example, we partner with the Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA) and are a regional representative for the ASA Global Council. Dr Jeanne Tarrant is the regional (southern Africa) chair for the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG), and co-chair of the IUCN ASG Habitat Protection Working Group.
We are a Community Cinema partner of the Nature Environment Wildlife Filmmakers (NEWF), which has provided us with an excellent avenue to screen environmental documentaries at our Isipingo and Adams Mission sites in eThekwini – both home to the Endangered Pickersgill’s Reed Frog. In total, we have reached over 475 community members of all ages who have attended monthly screenings since 2019.
In 2021 we started a partnership with the Cape Leopard Trust (CLT) on a project entitled “A tale of two Leopards”, looking at the Endangered Western Leopard Toad (WLT) and the Cape Leopard, particularly in the Overberg region of the Western Cape. In May, we travelled to meet with CLT in the Overberg to discuss the project scope and hold a stakeholder workshop for the WLT Biodiversity Management Plan.
For more information, contact Dr Jeanne Tarrant
Leap Day for Frogs is marked annually in February to raise awareness of the plight of these special amphibians. Frogs are often met with negative reactions and mixed attitudes, and Leap Day for Frogs aims to help to dispel some of these unpleasant connotations and educate people about the importance of frogs to our environment. There are 125 frog species in South Africa, of which a third are threatened by habitat destruction, increasing levels of pollution in freshwater systems, disease and climate change.