Mantella cowanii is considered to be among the most threatened amphibian species of Madagascar. The species is listed as Critically Endangered because its area of occupancy is estimated to be less than 10 square kilometers, its distribution is severely fragmented, and the extent of its forest habitat on Bismarksberg is most likely declining. This Mantella has undergone a drastic population decline, estimated to be more than 80 percent over the last three generations (estimated at 15 years in total). Trade of this species for the international pet market has been banned, but nothing has been done for its habitat, which is very restricted and entirely unprotected.

The purpose of this project is to take immediate action to secure the remaining habitat for the species. The ASG, CI and Man and the Environment set out to identify the core habitat for this species with a view to the creation of a new protected area for the species.

Surveys conducted by Conservation International in March 2008 demonstrated that the mountain of Fohisokina is an ideal protection site for Mantella cowanii, containing a stable population of this species. Rivers in the valley surrounding the mountain offer a natural boundary to demarcate the site.

This protection site, totaling 300 hectares, would incorporate the surrounding slopes as a buffer zone to preserve water quality in the area.

Reforestation of the area will be started as soon as possible, with tangible benefits to the local communities, including prevention of fire and protection of water quality in the rivers in the valley basin. The project will also provide economic benefits from scientists and tourists visiting the small site for several days at a time to study the Mantella species.

The NGO Man and the Environment (MATE) will formalize the management contract for the protected area following the negotiations with local stakeholders and government officials.