Heleophryne hewitti 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Anura Heleophrynidae

Scientific Name: Heleophryne hewitti Boycott, 1988
Common Name(s):
English Hewitt’s Ghost Frog, Hewitt’s African Ghost 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 taxonomy of this genus is in need of revision.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-08-02
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., de Villiers, A., Becker, F., 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 because its extent of occurrence (EOO) is 338 km2, its area of occupancy (AOO) is 141 km2, all individuals occur in two locations, and there is continuing decline in the quality and extent of its habitat.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. It appears to be restricted to four perennial rivers (Geelhoutboom, Martin's, Klein and Diepkloof) with their headwaters in the Elandsberg Mountains. An additional site is in the Cockscomb Mountains (Cunningham et al. 2003). Its altitudinal range is 400–930 m Asl. Two historical sites, Diep and Enkeldoom River, have not been surveyed during the last ten years, so recent observations of this species from that area are lacking; however, it is likely that the species still occurs there (Reeves et al. 2014). Its EOO is 338 km2 and its AOO is 141 km2. All known sites are thought to represent two threat-defined locations.
Countries occurrence:
South Africa (Eastern Cape Province)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:140.57Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:337.83
Number of Locations:2
Lower elevation limit (metres):400
Upper elevation limit (metres):930
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


No quantitative population information is currently available for this species, tadpoles are seen regularly and adults rarely, fitting their cryptic life history. The population is not considered to be severely fragmented as one site (Elandsberg) holds >50% of individuals and the 30 km distance between subpopulations is not considered to be too great for dispersal within one generation.

Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No
All individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It is a species of fynbos heathland and grassy fynbos. Only very small remnants of fynbos survive within its range, so very little non-breeding habitat survives. Adults remain concealed in hole or rock cracks during the day, emerging at night to feed or mate during the breeding season, which runs from October to January. It breeds in permanent, fast-flowing perennial rivers and streams with rocky beds in the upper reaches of the Elandsberg and Cockscomb. Females lay up to 150 eggs. Adults and tadpoles are found beneath submerged and partly submerged rocks in these streams, and occasionally at the edge of small waterfalls and cascades. The tadpoles take up to two years to develop.
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

There are no records of this species being utilized.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threats are loss of suitable non-breeding and breeding habitat as a result of afforestation with exotic pine plantations, suppression of fires, erosion, siltation of streams, dams, and road building. Introduced predatory fish are probably also a threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions
The Cockscomb subpopulation occurs within the boundaries of the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve. The Longmore Forestry has been actively monitoring the tadpoles numbers in Martins and Geelhoutboom Rivers in the Elandsberge for the last 15 years (W. Conradie pers. comm. August 2016).

Conservation Needed
Agreements need to be drawn up with private land owners for the management and long term protection of sites. There is also a need for invasive species control.

Research Needed
Studies on its taxonomy, population size, distribution and trends, life history and ecology, and threats are needed. Continued monitoring of known populations and survey work for other populations are also needed.

Citation: IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, South African Frog Re-assessment Group (SA-FRoG). 2017. Heleophryne hewitti. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T9772A77163963. . Downloaded on 20 September 2018.
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