The first formally trained herpetologist in Ghana, Caleb was part of an expedition in 2005 which discovered a population of the Togo slippery frog after it had been considered extinct by scientists for 40 years. Founder of the NGO, Herp Conservation Ghana, Caleb has worked tirelessly in the remote forests of the Togo-Volta Highlands to ensure this Critically Endangered amphibian’s protection ever since.
FORESTS UNDER THREAT
A stream and waterfall dweller, these frogs rely on healthy forests to protect the watershed and keep their freshwater habitat clean. Without formal protection, rapid agricultural expansion and widespread logging have put the frogs, and many other species, at risk. Together with local communities, Caleb and his team have succeeded in establishing Ghana’s first protected area for endangered amphibians, and they have big plans for expansion.
Togo slippery frogs are also threatened by human consumption. It’s said people moved to the region 5,000 years ago specifically because of this forest’s edible frogs, with over 70% of local people having eaten them. Caleb’s Whitley Award will allow him to expand his work to new communities, using innovative methods to engage with audiences and bring about behaviour change.
Caleb’s project will:
- Work alongside communities and government to gain legal protection for 60km² of forest where the Togo slippery frog is found.
- Train local ‘behaviour change champions’ to raise awareness to reduce consumption of the frogs.
- Restore degraded areas of former forest habitat, replanting 20,000 trees to prevent erosion and sedimentation of the frog’s waterfall and stream habitat.
Why it matters:
- The project site is home to 11 other threatened species, including two pangolin species.
- The Togo slippery frog is listed 18th in the top 100 most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) amphibians – as genetically different from other amphibians as pigs are from humans.
“The only world I knew for the first 7 years of my life, was one in which humans lived so successfully with wildlife in a protected area setting; a beauty that I now strive to recreate in my adult life.”
Image credits: Les Films au Clair de Lune
2022 CONTINUATION FUNDING
A new refuge for the Togo slippery frog
£70,000 over 2 years
The Togo slippery frog was rediscovered in 2005 after being considered extinct for nearly 40 years. Found primarily in forest waterfalls along Ghana’s border with Togo, these frogs rely on naturally rare habitats that are increasingly threatened by continued deforestation.
This Critically Endangered species is predicted to decline by 25% over the next 5 years without intervention, as their survival is restricted to fast flowing forest streams and waterfalls; any changes to forest cover and water courses could wipe out their entire population. Thanks to WFN funding in 2019, Caleb and his NGO, Herp Conservation Ghana, established a 485-hectare reserve – the first of its kind in the country – to protect Ghana’s Togo slippery frogs.
Since then, Caleb and his team have recently discovered a new population of 350 individuals outside of the reserve – by far the largest known population. A recent national campaign to increase tourism investment in this region, however, has catapulted the demand for land with large tracts being acquired for tourism infrastructure. Using Continuation Funding, Caleb will establish a 1000 ha community-based protected area to secure a future for this newly discovered population, as well as for other wildlife including the endangered tree pangolin. He will raise conservation awareness in the region, enhance community capacity to protect the species and develop a low impact sustainable ecotourism plan for the site and associated landscape, working with government. Through strong community partnerships and building on his past work, Caleb is taking swift action to preserve this new Togo slippery frog population and their forest ecosystem.