In partnership with the Bionerds, the Endangered Wildlife Trust is implementing a project focusing on several rare, threatened and range restricted amphibian species that occur only in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. These are the Rough Moss Frog (Critically Endangered), Moonlight Mountain Toadlet (Data Deficient), Micro Frog (Critically Endangered), Cape Platanna (Endangered), and the most eastern populations of Western Leopard Toad (Endangered). Supported by a small grant from Global Wildlife Conservation through the ASA, this work began in July 2021 and to date has confirmed three

new localities for the Moonlight Mountain Toadlet (Capensibufo selenophos), one new locality for the Rough Moss Frog (Arthroleptella rugosa) – previously known only from one other site as well as new sites for the Cape Platanna (Xenopus gilli). Project localities span across a chain of three mountain ranges in the Overberg, the Kleinriviersberg, Akkedisberg and Soutmuisberg. One landowner has already signed the Intention to Declare contractual agreement to have his property declared a Nature Reserve for the Moonlight Mountain Toadlet. Mount David borders on Maanschynkop Nature Reserve, a provincial nature reserve managed by CapeNature. Maanschynkop is the type locality for Capensibufo selenophos, but surveys in 2018 through 2020 have been unsuccessful in locating any toadlets. We extended our surveys to the neighbouring Mount David and successfully recorded adults, tadpoles, and eggs on this new locality for the species. The landowner has spent 12 years clearing this property of alien invasive vegetation, with the subsequent rediscovery of a population of Erica jasminiflora thought to be extinct in the wild. We engaged with the landowner regarding protecting this property through formal proclamation, and he jumped at the opportunity. He has signed the Intention to Declare contracts to have Mount David designated a Contract Nature Reserve through Biodiversity Stewardship, and the paperwork is currently awaiting the signature of the Western Cape MEC and CapeNature CEO. This is the first private property that will be proclaimed in favour of the conservation of Capensibufo selenophos, which was only described in 2017.

Arthroleptella rugosa, the Rough Moss Frog, is a range-restricted endemic that only occurs on the Klein Swartberg Mountain above the town of Caledon. This species is Critically Endangered, and during August through September (2020) surveys of the type locality delivered very few records at only two of the five known subpopulations. Alien vegetation encroachment on the type locality is of great concern, and we are working alongside CapeNature and the landowners to put an ecological burn regime in place to eradicate and control the alien vegetation density and encroachment. During late spring surveys, a new sub-population was discovered north of the type locality, on a farm where the landowners have been eradicating alien vegetation over the years, which has kept viable habitat clear for the Rough Moss Frogs to thrive. This is the most significant population of Rough Moss Frog known on the Klein Swartberg and there is engagement underway to work with the landowners regarding the formal protection of this critical habitat.

By: Alouise Lynch & Jeanne Tarrant. Endangered Wildlife Trust