Since the 1980s, amphibians have suffered global population declines, more than any other taxonomic group over the last few millennia. Currently, 41% of the world’s frogs, toads, newts, salamanders and caecilians are at risk of extinction. In South Africa, 18% of amphibians are classified as Threatened or Data Deficient. Almost two-thirds of the country’s 135 frog species are found nowhere else, making South Africa a priority for the conservation of this overlooked group.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust runs the only NGO programme in southern Africa focused on frog conservation. Programme Manager Jeanne works to fill vital knowledge gaps and address the threats facing amphibians in South Africa, including habitat loss, pollution and invasive species. Known as the “Frog Lady”, Jeanne and her team aim to elevate public awareness and change negative attitudes by highlighting the importance of amphibians, with over 14,000 people having participated in the project’s national awareness Leap Day for Frogs since 2015!
Jeanne will focus on eight species of threatened amphibian including the Pickersgill’s Reed Frog, Amathole Toad and Table Mountain Ghost Frog, along the KwaZulu-Natal coast, the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape peninsula. She will monitor populations and assess the feasibility of conservation interventions, working with landowners. By using frogs as flagships for habitat protection, Jeanne will not only ensure their survival but contribute to the broader conservation of freshwater and grassland areas that serve as important watersheds and carbon sinks.
Jeanne and her team will:
- Formally protect and improve management of 20,000 ha of amphibian habitat, safeguarding a total of 8 frog species
- Create species action plans for the Endangered Western Leopard Toad and Critically Endangered Table Mountain Ghost Frog
- Promote awareness about amphibians and their conservation via national outreach
- Produce a 10-year conservation and research strategy for South African frogs
- The Critically Endangered Amathole Toad was not seen for 13 years before being ‘rediscovered’ by Jeanne and her team in 2011
- Amphibians receive on average 75% less conservation funding than mammals, birds or reptiles
- The Endangered Pickersgill’s Reed Frog is only 2 cm, no bigger than a penny!
“The fact that almost half of amphibians are experiencing declines should be a massive wake-up call to humanity that all is not right with our planet – most people however are unaware that amphibians are even in trouble.” – Jeanne Tarrant