Afrixalus spinifrons


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Afrixalus spinifrons
Species Authority: (Cope, 1862)
Common Name(s):
English Natal Banana Frog
Taxonomic Notes: We follow Pickersgill (1996) in considering what were formerly regarded as the eastern populations of Afrixalus knysnae to be a subspecies of A. spinifrons (A. s. intermedius). Species boundaries in this complex are uncertain and taxonomic studies using calls, morphology and genetics are necessary.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened 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. & Menegon, M.
Contributor(s): Channing, A., Turner, 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 Near Threatened as although its extent of occurrence is 19,000 km², its area of occupancy is less than 1,900 km², and there is continuing decline in the quality of its habitat, there are 11 locations and the spatial distribution of this species is not considered to be severely fragmented. However, certain sites where this species occurs do have a large number of different threats which may seriously impact on  population viability in future. Loss of certain sites could easily result in less than 10 locations triggering the criteria for Vulnerable status.
2004 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species, which is endemic to South Africa, occurs as two subspecies: A. s. spinifrons occurs in the KwaZulu-Natal lowlands, and eastern Cape coast of South Africa at low to intermediate altitudes; A.s. intermedius occurs at altitudes above 1,000 m to around 1,500 m asl in western KwaZulu-Natal between the midlands and foothills of the Drakensberg. The Extent of Occurrence is around 19,000 km², and the Area of Occupancy is estimated to be 10% of this.
South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal)
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is hard to detect but it is known to be doing well at some sites where it appears abundant.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It is associated with low vegetation in shrubland and dry forest. It breeds in vleis (including dams) and temporary pools and pans (including roadside pools) and uses emergent vegetation to create egg nests. Species in this genus deposit between 20 and 50 eggs on vegetation above the water. Tadpoles emerge, drop into the water and remain there until metamorphosis.
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

There are no reports of this species being utilized.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Certain subpopulations are affected by loss of wetlands through urban and recreational development, afforestation, agricultural expansion, pesticides, and overgrazing by livestock. Coastal populations (i.e. A. s. spinifrons) may be at higher risk than those inland due to heavier development pressure along the KZN coastline. 

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Determining whether the two subspecies are separate species is a high conservation research priority for this species, and the entire genus in South Africa is in need of taxonomic attention. Insufficient information exists on life history of the subspecies, and monitoring of breeding sites is recommended at the extremes of the distribution. Although there are many threats to individual sites, the species as a whole is not considered to require conservation effort at this time.

Afrixalus spinifrons intermedius occurs in the Khahlamba-Drakensberg National Park. Afrixalus s. spinifrons occurs in a number of coastal protected areas.

Bibliography [top]

Alexander, G.J. 1990. Reptiles and amphibians of Durban. Durban Museum Novitates: 1-41.

Armstrong, A.J. 2001. Conservation status of herpetofauna endemic to KwaZulu-Natal. Journal of Herpetology 50(2): 79-96.

Backwell, P.R.Y. and Passmore, N.I. 1991. Advertisement calls and female phonotaxis in Natal dwarf Afrixalus (Anura: Hyperoliidae). Journal of African Zoology: 275-280.

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

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).

Lambiris, A.J.L. 1989. A review of the amphibians of Natal. Lammergeyer: 1-210.

Lambiris, A.J.L. 1989. A review of the amphibians of Natal. Lammergeyer 39: 1-210.

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.

Pickersgill, M. 1984. Three new Afrixalus (Anura: Hyperoliidae) from south-eastern Africa. Durban Museum Novitates: 203-220.

Pickersgill, M. 1996. A new subspecies of Afrixalus from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and comments on its superspecies affinities. Durban Museum Novitates: 49-59.

Pickersgill, M. 2000. The ethology and systematics of eastern and southern African savanna Afrixalus (Anura: Hyperoliidae). Unpublished MSc thesis, University of Leeds.

Pickersgill, M. 2007. Frog Search. Results of Expeditions to Southern and Eastern Africa. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt am Main.

Poynton, J.C. 1964. The amphibia of southern Africa: a faunal study. Annals of the Natal Museum 17: 1-334.

Schiøtz, A. 1999. Treefrogs of Africa. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt am Main.

Citation: South African Frog Re-assessment Group (SA-FRoG), IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2010. Afrixalus spinifrons. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 01 September 2015.
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