Leptopelis xenodactylus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Anura Arthroleptidae

Scientific Name: Leptopelis xenodactylus Poynton, 1963
Common Name(s):
English Weza Forest Tree Frog, Long-toed Tree Frog
Taxonomic Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2016. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0 (31 March 2016). New York, USA. Available at:
Taxonomic Notes: The relationships between this and other species without toe discs requires a detailed taxonomic study using molecular and morphological methodologies.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B2ab(ii,iii,iv,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-07-28
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, South African Frog Re-assessment Group (SA-FRoG)
Reviewer(s): Luedtke, J.
Contributor(s): Channing, A., Rebelo, A., Turner, A.A., Schiøtz, A., de Villiers, A., Becker, F., Harrison, J., Harvey, J., Tarrant, J., Measey, G.J., Tolley, K., Minter, L., du Preez, L., Burger, M., Cunningham, M.J., Baptista, N., Hopkins, R., Davies, S., Conradie, W. & Chapeta, Y.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Rebelo, A., Garollo, E., Measey, G.J., Neam, K.
Listed as Endangered, in view of its area of occupancy (AOO) of 42 km2, the severely fragmented nature of its subpopulations, and a continuing decline in the quality of its habitat, AOO, number of subpopulations, and in the number of mature individuals.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to southeastern South Africa in the southern KwaZulu-Natal Province highlands. It is not found on the steep slopes of the escarpment, but primarily occurs between 1,000 and 1,830 m Asl. Its presence in Lesotho is unlikely (J. Harvey pers. comm. August 2016) and it is possibly extinct from the Weza region. It is known from 18 locations, with an extent of occurrence (EOO) of around 11,000 km2 and an AOO of 42 km2. This AOO estimate is based on known breeding sites (14 sites, five occurring in a close cluster and the other nine occurring in relative isolation from each other, with more than 40 km between them). There is the possibility that additional sites will be discovered (Armstrong 2001), as it is suspected that not all breeding sites are known. There is a continuing decline in AOO, as the seasonal wetlands it inhabits are being degraded or lost through agriculture, afforestation, dam construction and urbanisation.
Countries occurrence:
South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:42.37Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:11112.11
Number of Locations:18
Lower elevation limit (metres):1000
Upper elevation limit (metres):1830
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is cryptic and not commonly encountered. The population is considered to be severely fragmented as over 50% of individuals are in isolated patches, and the distances between known subpopulations are considered to be too great for dispersal within one generation. There are historical records from the Weza region, but a fairly intense survey of this region was conducted in 2006–2007, including a known locality, but the species was not detected (J. Harvey pers. comm. August 2016). It is not impossible that it still persists there, but it appeared to be absent from that known locality, which is under heavy pressure from afforestation (J. Harvey pers. comm. August 2016). There are similar sites (for example, near Ixopo) that, based on satellite imagery, appear to be under heavy anthropogenic pressure, and may no longer support the species (J. Harvey pers. comm. August 2016). Therefore, based on the Weza region and the possibility that other subpopulations may have disappeared, it is likely that there is a decline in the number of subpopulations, as well as number of mature individuals.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Population severely fragmented:Yes
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It occurs in grassland and breeds in upland bogs, grassy wetlands and marshes. Eggs are laid in a nest in the ground near water.
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: There are no records of this species being utilized.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Threats to this species are: afforestation, inappropriate fire regimes, cattle trampling, overgrazing and associated eutrophication of breeding sites, the spread of alien plants that lower the water table (leading to drying out of breeding sites), dam construction and urbanisation.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions
It is found in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, which is well managed for biodiversity conservation.

Conservation Needed
Appropriate management of known sites is necessary. Areas in which it occurs require stakeholder agreements for sensitive management and protection.

Research Needed
Priorities for conservation work include determination of dispersal, requirements in terms of terrestrial habitat and distribution together with categorising threats. The relationships between this and other species without toe discs need to be studied. This species would make a good candidate for monitoring.

Citation: IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, South African Frog Re-assessment Group (SA-FRoG). 2017. Leptopelis xenodactylus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T11700A77163657. . Downloaded on 24 May 2018.
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