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Wendy’s forest toad (Nectophrynoides wendyae)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 11253191

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 11253191) - Wendy’s forest toad - Awarded $10,000 on December 30, 2011

Project title: Uzungwa Scarp Amphibian Project: Conservation assessment of hyper-endemic amphibian species in the Uzungwa Scarp, Eastern Arc Mountains, Tanzania.

Aim: To determine the status of three endangered hyper-endemic amphibian species in Uzungwa Scarp and provide evidence based conservation targets to local conservation practitioners.

The project focuses on the Uzungwa Scarp Forest Reserve (207 km2), southern Udzungwa Mountains, south-central Tanzania and target species of: Wendy’s forest toad Nectophrynoides wendyae (Critically Endangered), Poynton’s forest toad N. poyntoni (Critically Endangered) and Kihanga reed frog Hyperolius kihangensis (Endangered). These species are amongst Africa’s rarest frogs being only known from areas less than 1 km2 and are referred to here as “hyper-endemic”. The project has been running since 2011 and with the following primary objectives:

  •  Re-evaluate the known distribution of Nectophrynoides wendyae (CR), N. poyntoni (CR) and Hyperolius kihangensis (EN) in the Uzungwa Scarp.
  • Establish abundance indices and collect baseline data for target populations and sympatric congeners to allow for future monitoring.
  • Characterise ecological requirements by measuring habitat and microclimate within each species’ area of occupancy and adjacent unoccupied habitat.

 In 2011, a Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) of the region was carried out which identified species diversity within the target area as well verified sampling sites. The methodology was novel for reasons of practicality and finance and utilised a post-hoc method of identification for species encountered. Post-hoc images were analysed by a UK team and verified by Italian partners. This way we obtained geo-referenced data for all amphibian species encountered within the survey area, beyond our three target species and minimised mis-identifcation errors from a field team of non-amphibian specialists.  Initial results suggested that N. wendyae was present in previously recorded locationsand locally abundant. Neither N. poyntoni nor H. Kihangensis were located during the survey. This may have been either a relict of sampling techniques, or due to temporal changes in abundance and detectability or possibly that previous locations weren't identified. The latter is likely for H. kihangensis due to the species only being found in a single recorded locality. However N. poyntoni has a larger, albeit small distribution and a sympatric species, N. tornieri, was found at the given site location.

A second survey in 2012 produced similar results, with N. wendyae demonstrating a range larger than previously recorded within the Red List assessment, warranting a minor revision to the assessment for this species. However, the range is still small and does not warrant changing the overall threat level for the species. Again, neither N. poyntoni nor H. kihangensis were relocated, even with additional expert field visits. While we cannot confirm their current status these results clearly warrant more intensive surveys focused on finding these two species.

Additionally the survey in 2012 carried out Chytrid swabbing for all encountered frogs. Chytrid was detected in several species across Uzungwa Scarp including N. wendyae.

We are currently supporting a PhD student in the region who will continue with and build upon the initial REA work carried out in the early stages of this project. Hopefully this further work will identify whether action is needed for both N. poyntoni and H. kihangensis and whether further protection is required for N. wendyae.


Project 11253191 location - Tanzania, Africa