In 2021, we received approximately 50 applications from the ASA Start-up Conservation Grants call. On the one hand, this high number of applications demonstrates there are amazing amphibian conservation projects being conducted worldwide. However, it also illustrates how many organisations are in urgent need of funding to conserve amphibians. Because our resources are unfortunately limited, the ASA is only able to fund a small proportion of the projects that have applied for our grants. However, because we consider all projects to be important for advancing amphibian conservation around the world, we would like to publicise them on our platforms, to help draw the attention of other funding entities, potential collaborators and/or partners.

Below you can learn more about the project Survey and movement analysis of Mantidactylus pauliani in the face of landscape change for a focused conservation plan proposed by Tanjona Association (Herizo Radonirina Oninjatovo, [email protected]Kanto Ingotiana Razanajatovo, Nirhy Rabibisoa).

Mantidactylus pauliani, or Madagascar Frog, is a locally endemic species living typically in the rocky stream of the Ankaratra massif. It has a restricted distribution, and can only be found between 1900 and 2400 m of altitude. Amphibians of high-altitude are usually more sensitive to environmental impacts than those of low altitude. Moreover, human-driven activities like timber harvesting and charcoal pollute and bury streams.

In this project, we will study the movement ecology of Mantidactylus pauliani. We have been conducting ecological studies about this species since 2018, but this is one of the first projects concerning movement ecology of this species. In the face of anthropogenic activities leading to landscape changes, movement ecology can serve as a meaningful information to implement adapted conservation planning. Therefore, by the end of this project we should be able to have insights about the exploitation, exploration and migration activities of the species. Moreover, as this species is typically aquatic, the protection of its habitat, both in quantity and quality, involves not only the species survival but also means a significant resource to the local community living alongside the Ankaratra Protected Area. In this way, the adapted-conservation project ensures and strengthens the permanence and availability of the streams for both amphibian and human well-being.

The general objective of this project is to gain insights on Mantidactylus pauliani species movement ecology so as to identify at least 40% of its key breeding sites and vital zones for conservation action within the 8 important sites of the Ankaratra massif. The project will be divided into 3 fieldwork sessions, where the first one will be dedicated to species monitoring, landscape analysis and threats assessment during the wet season, and the implementing of radio-tracking tools for movement tracing. The second part will be species monitoring and landscape analysis during the dry season. In the last fieldwork, we will present the results to the Protected Area manager as well as to the general public.

The outcomes of this project will be the information generated about the movement ecology of Mantidactylus pauliani. It will serve as a suggestion document to the manager of the Protected Area for decision-making support to conservation and management. The additional information resulted from this study will contribute in finding efficient strategy to fight the factors contributing to the species decline.

For many years until now, we have been committed to suggest a conservation action plan to the Ankaratra Portected Area manager, aiming at the amelioration of Mantidactylus pauliani population survival and/or ex-situ conservation option. In the long-term, this will be achieved by identifying and securing permanently the main breeding and vital area to ensure the sustainability of the streams where the species live. However, this goal will not be reached without involving all stakeholders in the project. In such way, we grant a high and ambitious value in raising awareness among new and young generation, both conservationist and local community, throughout environmental education that will lead to more eco-responsible activities.

To conduct this research we rely on our partnerships with the IUCN ASG Madagascar, the Amphibian Captive Breeding Center (University of Mahajanga), the Zoology Department (University of Mahajanga), the Ankaratra PA manager and the local population.

We are seeking for patrons and potentials donors to this initiative; we thank in advance all the help we may have.

Photo: Mantidactylus pauliani (Herizo Radonirina Oninjatovo)