Critically Endangered Frogs Of Madagascar

A Rainbow Burrowing Frog at the bottom of a rocky canyon in south-central Madagascar.
A Rainbow Burrowing Frog at the bottom of a rocky canyon in south-central Madagascar.

All of Madagascar's native amphibians are frogs, and virtually all of those frogs are endemic to the island nation alone. We look at the most threatened of the frog species of Madagascar. The Golden mantilla exhibits strict locality, and the population is small that the species is perhaps the most threatened frog species in the country. Williams' Boophis Frog is also endangered, mainly as it exhibits type locality in the Mount Tsiafajavona. Another critically endangered frog is the Rainbow Burrowing Frog that is overly exploited for the international pet trade and Cowan’s Mantella, a terrestrial frog species occurring at altitudes of 900 meters above sea level.

Williams' Boophis Frog (Boophis williamsi)

Williams' Boophis Frog is a species in the Mantellidae Family. The frog is endemic to Madagascar. The Boophis williamsi has a brown background with orange markings, and the ventral parts are dirty white. The dorsal skin is smooth, and it has large tubercles on the posterior. Males have distinctive light nuptial pads. The frog prefers to live in the tropical or subtropical moist montane forests, high altitude grasslands, heavily degraded former forests, and along rivers. The species presents as type locality found on Mount Tsiafajavona in Ambohimirandrana at 2,100 meters above sea level, as well as in Tsimiaramianadahy. Habitat loss from fire, illegal logging, overgrazing, clearing of land for agriculture, and impacts of pollution and siltation along its breeding streams threaten this species. The Madagascar Conservation Organization Association established the Ankarana Massif Reserve together with local communities collaboration conserve the habitats of this species. Illegal logging is prohibited, and there are numerous reforestation efforts to recover the lost habitats.

Golden Mantella (Mantella aurantiaca)

The Golden mantilla is a small frog endemic to Madagascar. The species has an extremely restricted geographical distribution, known only from three areas Andromena Forests, Moramanga, and Torotorofotsy Wetlands. The species is an upland species living in altitudes of around 900 meters above sea level. The frog prefers moist, humid, and temperate climates. The Golden Mantella has a uniform yellow, orange, or red background. It is a small species measuring around 20 to 26 millimeters. The inner legs have red flash marks. It has a small but visible tympanum. Eggs hatch within two to six days, and tadpoles wriggle to a water source. Metamorphosis takes place six to eight weeks later. The tadpoles are herbivores feeding on detritus and algae. When they become froglets, they begin feeding on insects. Sexual maturity is achieved in 12 to 14 months. Several human activities have caused a decline in the species population. Deforestation, the introduction of predatory species, over-collection by pet traders, and human encroachment threaten the frog. The country has put forward limits on the exportation of the frog, and pet trade has significantly reduced. The species is under maintenance in 35 zoos. The species is the most endangered frog in Madagascar.

Cowan's Mantella (Mantella cowanii)

Cowan’s Mantella is a frog species in the Mantellidae Family. The frog is endemic to Madagascar. Cowan’s Mantella occurs in altitude ranges of 1,000 to 2,000 meters above sea level. This terrestrial species prefers to live along forest edges and in tiny strips of vegetation growing along rivers, montane grassland savannas, and along humid stone walls. During the dry season, it lives in underground cavities. Cowan's Mantella lays its eggs on the ground, and larval development occurs in streams. Adults are about 22- to 29-millimeters snout-to-vent length. The dorsum, head, and flanks are dark black. The ventral side is black with circular whitish blue markings. The proximal part of the humerus and femur are red which extend onto the flanks in small side patches. There are single marking on the throat. Increased exploitation by international pet traders, clearing of land for agriculture, timber extraction, draining of wetlands, human encroachment, and forests fires continue to threaten this species. The frog is found in the Fohisokina Protected Area. Maintenance of the frog’s habitat in the protected are the significant conservation efforts directed to the species.

Rainbow Burrowing Frog (Scaphiophryne gottlebei)

The Rainbow Burrowing Frog is another endemic frog species found in Madagascar. The frog is small, rounded, and brightly decorated with distinctive red, white, black, and green patterns on the back. The back is smooth, and the belly region is rough. The rainbow burrowing frog has a rounded snout, big eyes but the tymoni are small. It has short and robust limbs with large-tipped hands and webbed hind feet. The frog is endemic to central Madagascar. The frog lives in the open, rocky areas, dry forests, and in the humid vegetation of canyons. It is rupicolous and can climb vertical walls in the narrow canyons. Breeding is presumed to be in shallow, temporary pools. International pet traders collect these species creating a significant threat. Its habitat is also at risk from forest fires, wood extraction, overgrazing, and sapphire mining. The primary conservation measures of the species are in Parque Nacional de Islalo. There is a need to control the over collection of the frog by pet traders and also regulating human encroachment of the frog’s natural habitats.

Threats to Madagascar's Frogs

Madagascar has many critically endangered frogs thanks to the ongoing deforestation activities being carried out by humans to create land for agriculture and human settlement, and the overgrazing of domesticated livestock in the forest vegetation. Woods fires have not spared the forests of Madagascar either, threatening the species and destroying their natural habitats. Significant conservation efforts in the country include reforestation to restore the lost habitats so that these frogs can have a home. Also, breeding of these species in captivity increases the chances of survival for the tadpoles. Madagascar should control the illegal logging and human encroachment since these are the major threats likely to drive the critically endangered species to extinction.

Critically Endangered Frogs Of Madagascar

Critically Endangered Frogs of MadagascarScientific Name
Williams' Boophis Frog
Boophis williamsi
Golden MantellaMantella aurantiaca
Cowan's MantellaMantella cowanii
Blue-Legged MantellaMantella expectata
Black-Eared MantellaMantella milotympanum
Green MantellaMantella viridis
Pauliani FrogMantidactylus pauliani
Ambohitantely FrogAnilany helenae
Rainbow Burrowing FrogScaphiophryne gottlebei

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