Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Anura Heleophrynidae

Scientific Name: Heleophryne rosei
Species Authority: Hewitt, 1925
Common Name(s):
English Table Mountain Ghost Frog

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1ab(ii,iii)+2ab(ii,iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2010-02-08
Assessor(s): South African Frog Re-assessment Group (SA-FRoG), IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Angulo, A. & Cox, N.A.
Contributor(s): Channing, A., Turner, A.A., de Villiers, A., Harvey, J., Tarrant, J., Measey, J., Tolley, K., Minter, L., du Preez, L., Burger, M., Cunningham, M. & Davies, S.
Listed as Critically Endangered because its Extent of Occurrence and  Area of Occupancy is less than 9 km2, all individuals are in a single location, and there is a continuing decline in the quality of its habitat.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2004 Critically Endangered (CR)
1996 Vulnerable (VU)
1994 Endangered (E)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species has a very restricted range (Extent of Occurrence: 9 km2) being endemic to the southern and eastern slopes of Table Mountain, in the Western Cape province, extreme south-western South Africa. Within this, the Area of Occupancy (around 4.5 km2) is believed to be suffering ongoing decline. It occurs between 240 and 1,060 m asl.
Countries occurrence:
South Africa (Western Cape)
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2: 4.5
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Yes
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 9
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Number of Locations: 1
Lower elevation limit (metres): 240
Upper elevation limit (metres): 1060
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It is a rare and elusive species that survives in low population densities. The number of tadpoles in the Skeleton Gorge decreased by around 50% from 1980 to 2000, but monitoring of tadpoles suggest that this subpopulation is stable.
Current Population Trend: Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It lives in forest and fynbos heathland, breeding in clear perennial streams in gorges, valleys and ravines on Table Mountain. Non-breeding adults have been found in damp, sheltered habitat well away from streams, including in caves. The tadpoles require longer than 12 months to complete metamorphosis, and so it is important that there is perennial water to allow the larvae to develop. The habitat on some of these streams is deteriorating due to abstraction and soil erosion.
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Yes

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

There are no reports of this species being utilized.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threats are the spread of alien vegetation, frequent fires, and water storage reservoirs on the mountain which can affect the consistency of stream-flow. Intensification of tourism is also a threat through soil erosion around some of the streams. Water abstraction from streams has resulted in habitat loss and may limit the vertical movement of tadpoles in summer.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The whole of this species' range is incorporated in the Table Mountain National Park, part of the Cape Floristic Region World Heritage Site, and Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens. High priorities for conservation research were set to determine the dispersal of this species and the highest priority to estimate population size. Perceived threats need to be evaluated and management plans need to be properly implemented and integrated between properties. Current monitoring of tadpoles could be expanded to make population estimates.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  
3. Shrubland -> 3.8. Shrubland - Mediterranean-type Shrubby Vegetation
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
suitability: Suitable  
7. Caves and Subterranean Habitats (non-aquatic) -> 7.1. Caves and Subterranean Habitats (non-aquatic) - Caves
suitability: Suitable  
3. Species management -> 3.2. Species recovery

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Percentage of population protected by PAs (0-100):100
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.2. Wood & pulp plantations -> 2.2.2. Agro-industry plantations
♦ timing: Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

6. Human intrusions & disturbance -> 6.1. Recreational activities
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity: Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score: Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.1. Fire & fire suppression -> 7.1.3. Trend Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Minority (<50%) ♦ severity: Causing/Could cause fluctuations ⇒ Impact score: Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.2. Dams & water management/use -> 7.2.11. Dams (size unknown)
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Minority (<50%) ♦ severity: Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score: Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species -> 8.1.1. Unspecified species
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
2. Conservation Planning -> 2.2. Area-based Management Plan
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Baard, E.H.W. 1989. The status of some rare and endangered endemic reptiles and amphibians of the southwestern Cape Province, South Africa. Biological Conservation: 161-168.

Boycott, R.C. and de Villiers, A.L. 1986. The status of Heleophryne rosei Hewitt (Anura: Leptodactylidae) on Table Mountain and recommendations for its conservation. South African Journal of Wildlife Research: 129-134.

Channing, A. 2001. Amphibians of Central and Southern Africa. Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London.

De Villiers, A.L. 1997. Monitoring the distribution and conservation status of threatened amphibians in the southwestern Cape. Proceedings of the Third H.A.A. Symposium on African Herpetology, 1993, Pretoria, pp. 142-148. Herpetological Association of Africa, Stellenbosch, South Africa.

du Preez, L. and Carruthers, V. 2009. A complete guide to the frogs of southern Africa. Struik Nature, Cape Town.

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.3). Available at: (Accessed: 2 September 2010).

McLachlan, A. 1978. South African Red Data Book - Reptiles and Amphibians. South African National Scientific Programmes Report.

Minter, L.R., Burger, M., Harrison, J.A., Braack, H.H., Bishop, P.J. and Knoepfer, D. 2004. Atlas and Red Data Book of the Frogs of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. SI/MAB Series No. 9, Washington, D.C.

Passmore, N.I. and Carruthers, V.C. 1995. South African Frogs, 2nd Edition. Southern Book Publishers and Witwatersrand University Press, Johannesburg.

Citation: South African Frog Re-assessment Group (SA-FRoG), IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. 2010. Heleophryne rosei. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T9773A13015448. . Downloaded on 10 October 2015.
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