Amphibian experts and conservationists are jumping for joy after a subpopulation of the critically endangered micro frog (Microbatrachella capensis) was found in a hidden wetland in the Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area close to Africa’s southernmost tip in the Overberg – a new discovery to get excited about!
This tiny frog is about the size of a person’s thumbnail when it’s fully grown, and was previously known from just four subpopulations between the Cape Flats and the southern tip of Africa. It’s also critically endangered due to the 7km² area it occupies, as well as the habitat lost or degraded within this very restricted range.
This army of 30 individual frogs was found by University of Stellenbosch student, Oliver Angus, who says, “This find was completely unexpected. We were actually searching for Cape Platanna when we found the Micro Frog. This is an awesome find for the species: this is a whole new catchment for them, and it’s a 20km range extension.”
The Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area (NWSMA) Project Manager, Ross Kettles mentions that there have also been other exciting discoveries in wetlands and rivers including the Endangered Cape Platanna (Xenopus gilli) – “it’s known from only four locations in the world, and is extremely sensitive to habitat change.”
The NWSMA is an initiative driven by local farmers and the community of Elim close to the town of Bredasdorp and Struisbaai, covering 47 000 hectares. Landowners have come together to protect the Nuwejaars wetlands system, considered one of the largest wetland systems in South Africa, and threatened fynbos vegetation and wildlife that occur here.
The wetlands are not usually accessible to the public but from November and throughout the festive season, visitors to the area can join Wildlife Guided Tours, with all funds supporting the work of this non-profit organisation. Visitors may or may not see the Micro Frog; but the trip is the only in the Overberg to provide big game experiences, with the likes of Hippo, Buffalo, Rau Quagga, Eland and Bontebok flourishing in these secretive wetland areas.
Have a look at the fascinating discovery over here: