Mantella cowanii 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Anura Mantellidae

Scientific Name: Mantella cowanii
Species Authority: Boulenger, 1882
Common Name(s):
English Cowan's Mantella, Cowan's Golden Frog, Black Golden Frog
Taxonomic Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2015. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0. New York, USA. Available at:

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2014-08-18
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Angulo, A.
Contributor(s): Andreone, F., Vences, M. & Rabibisoa, N.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Nowakowski , J.
Listed as Endangered because its area of occupancy (AOO) is estimated at 253 km2, it is considered to occur in three threat-defined locations, and because of ongoing decline in the area, extent and quality of habitat. There is currently no evidence to support recent population decline (post-2003). There has been substantial sampling effort for this species, and the distribution is relatively well described (Rabibisoa 2008); therefore, it is assumed that the range map reflects the AOO.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Critically Endangered (CR)
2004 Critically Endangered (CR)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species occurs in three threat-defined locations on the high plateau of east-central Madagascar: 1) Antakasina, 2) Antoetra, and 3) Itremo with old records to the west that require further investigation. These locations are geographically isolated and embedded within a heavily modified agricultural landscape. The threats of habitat loss and land use pressures are driven by local factors and their severity differs among sites (Rabibisoa 2008). It occurs at 1,000-2,000 m asl. There are reports from commercial collectors (often very unreliable) that may indicate the the population is more widely distributed, but surveys are needed to confirm these reports. The Farimazava subpopulation next to Antoetra might no longer survive. Its area of occupancy (AOO) is estimated to be 253 km2. There has been substantial sampling effort for this species and the distribution is relatively well described (Rabibisoa 2008); therefore, the range map is taken as a proxy for the AOO. 

Countries occurrence:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2: 253
Number of Locations: 3
Lower elevation limit (metres): 1000
Upper elevation limit (metres): 2000
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It was formerly reported as being common, but population declines have occurred in the past, as deduced from a dramatic reduction in its distribution and in the number of mature adults (Andreone and Randrianirina 2003). It is not known if declines are ongoing. Recent surveys report that individuals are still encountered in appropriate habitat but at low abundances compared to pre-1996 survey efforts (F. Andreone and N. Rabibisoa pers. comm. 2014).
Current Population Trend: Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It is a terrestrial species, living along forest edges, tiny strips of vegetation along streams, in nearby montane grassland savannah and along humid stone walls. It lives in underground cavities during the dry season and it can hide in these during fires. It presumably breeds like other Mantellas, with the eggs laid on the ground and the larvae developing in streams. So far, there are no data on tadpole morphology.
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Yes

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: It is found in the international trade (Gerson 2012), which is regulated by CITES and related national export quotas (Andreone et al. 2006).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The fact that the observed decline in this species followed a period of increased exploitation for the international pet trade suggests that populations were over-collected, resulting in a population reduction. Andreone et al. (2006) note that collectors used to collect 2,000 individuals a day, but in 2003 only 100-150 animals per day were collected by an entire village. However, the pet trade has been officially interrupted in 2003 and for this reason it is unlikely that the species is traded illegally (F. Andreone and N. Rabibisoa pers. comm. 2014). The species also occurs in a region that has largely been deforested and the remaining habitat is being lost due to subsistence agriculture, timber extraction and charcoal production, fires, draining of wetlands and expanding human settlements (Rabibisoa 2008). However, the species appears able to adapt to open areas and usually does not penetrate within forests. The Farimazava subpopulation next to Antoetra has hybridized with Mantella baroni and might no longer be distinct. A recent study screened amphibians in Itremo for the presence of chytrid infection and all individuals tested negative for the fungus (Crottini et al. 2011).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is known from the Fohisokina protected area, which has received temporary protected status since 2010 through transfer of management to the community-based FOMISAME (F. Andreone and N. Rabibisoa pers. comm. 2014). Continued enforcement of the protected area will be important for maintaining critical habitat for this species. Site management strategies are needed to reduce the effects of bush fires within the protected area. A moratorium on the export of Mantella cowani was implemented in 2003 (through the application of a zero export quota on any CITES Appendix II species until subpopulations recover). Research is needed to better understand its life history, population trends and current threats. Surveys are needed to determine where other remnant subpopulations survive and how these could be better protected.

Citation: IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. 2014. Mantella cowanii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T57441A60797066. . Downloaded on 30 November 2015.
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