Apr 4

Angel’s Madagascar frog (Boehmantis microtympanum)

Species: Angel’s Madagascar frog (Boehmantis microtympanum)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: Angel’s Madagascar frog is not known to produce any vocalisations and its external ear drum is much smaller than in most frog species.

More information: Angel’s Madagascar frog is a large-bodied frog species that has a marbled green-brown or grey pattern on the upper surface of its body, perfectly camouflaging it against the abundant moss-covered rocks in its habitat.

The impressive yet infrequent energetic movements of this species are only used when an individual is disturbed, and Angel’s Madagascar frog is relatively sedentary for the majority of the time. The main prey items of this species include insects, small freshwater crustaceans and smaller frogs, which it hunts for at dusk and generally devours whole. This long-living amphibian can live for up to seven years.

Local extinctions of Angel’s Madagascar frog have already occurred due to the extensive destruction of forest habitats throughout its range, especially in southeast Madagascar. As well as habitat loss and degradation, the introduction of an invasive eucalyptus species has also led to population declines in this species.

The range of Angel’s Madagascar frog includes two protected areas, the Andohela and Midongy-du-Sud National Parks, although further protection of this species’ habitat would be highly beneficial for its conservation. Promoting sustainable forestry practices within the local community would also help to mitigate the extensive habitat destruction that continues to remove huge expanses of naturally occurring forest across Madagascar.

Find out more about amphibians on the IUCN Red List

Find out more about conservation in Madagascar

See images of Angel’s Madagascar frog on ARKive

Hannah Mulvany, ARKive Content and Outreach Officer

Mar 29
St Helena gumwood image

St Helena gumwood (Commidendrum robustum)

Species: St Helena gumwood (Commidendrum robustum)

Status: Endangered (EN)

Interesting Fact: In 1977, the St Helena gumwood was adopted as the national tree of St Helena, a UK Overseas Territory.

As its name suggests, the St Helena gumwood is endemic to the small volcanic island of St Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean. This highly branched tree has a crooked, knarled trunk, an umbrella-like canopy and thick, hairy, wrinkled leaves. During the winter and spring, the St Helena gumwood produces white flowers which droop from the ends of the branches. This hermaphroditic plant was once a regularly occurring species within subtropical and tropical forests on inland cliffs and mountain peaks, with large amounts of seed falling around the parent plant and germinating freely.

Since 1659 when the first settlers arrived on St Helena, the St Helena gumwood has been exploited for use as timber and firewood, and forests have been cleared to make way for pastureland. In addition, this species faced further pressure from introduced goats which grazed heavily on its seedlings. By the 1980s, the St Helena gumwood population had been drastically reduced, and this spurred conservationists to put a management plan into action.

This species is now protected by the Endangered Endemic and Indigenous Species Protection Ordinance 7 of 1996, and the instigation of the Millennium Gumwood Forest Project resulted in 4,300 St Helena gumwood trees being planted in previously degraded wasteland in 2000. Other replanting and weed clearance projects are underway, and a successful biological control programme has helped to combat the destructive jacaranda bug which was responsible for a decline in the St Helena gumwood population in the early 1990s.

 

Find out more about environmental management on St Helena.

See images of the St Helena gumwood on ARKive.

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Content and Outreach Officer

Mar 23
Juvenile Philippine crocodile

Juvenile Philippine crocodile

Species: Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting Fact: The Philippine crocodile is one of the most endangered freshwater crocodile species in the world.

More information:

The Philippine crocodile is a relatively small species of freshwater crocodile, with a broad snout, and thick bony plates on its back. Until recently, it was considered a subspecies of the very similar New Guinea crocodile.

Philippine crocodiles are thought to feed mainly on fish, invertebrates, small amphibians and reptiles, but very little else is known about the natural history or ecology of wild populations. In captivity, females build mound-nests at the end of the dry season from leaf litter and mud, upon which they lay a relatively small clutch of 7 to 14 eggs. Only the females show parental care of both the eggs and the hatchlings.

Previously found throughout the Philippines but now reduced to a small and highly fragmented population on a number of small islands, the Philippine crocodile favours freshwater marshes, the tributaries of large rivers and small lakes and ponds.

The massive population decline of the Philippine crocodile was originally caused by over-exploitation for commercial use. Today, habitat destruction is the most pressing threat to the species’ survival, with rainforests being cleared throughout the region to make way for rice fields. The fearsome reputation of the saltwater crocodile undoubtedly contributes to local intolerance of any crocodile species. The word for crocodile in the Filipino language is a vile insult, and crocodiles are often killed when encountered.

The Philippine crocodile is considered to be the second most endangered crocodilian in the world, with possibly fewer than 100 individuals in the wild. International trade of this species is prohibited, but there is only one officially protected area within the Philippines and its protection is poorly enforced. At present, captive breeding of the Philippine crocodile takes place in a small programme run by the Silliman University and at the government-run Crocodile Farming Institute.

 

Find out more about the Philippine crocodile at the Mabuwaya Foundation.

See images of the Philippine crocodile on ARKive.

Phoebe Shaw Stewart, ARKive Text Author

Mar 8

Boreal felt lichen (Erioderma pedicellatum)

Species: Boreal felt lichen (Erioderma pedicellatum)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting Fact: The boreal felt lichen is known as the ‘panda bear’ of lichens because of its extreme rarity.

The boreal felt lichen is a ‘leafy’ species that grows on the branches and trunks of trees. When hydrated, it has a bluish-grey colour, but when dry it is darker grey-brown. The edges of this lichen typically curl up to expose whitish undersides.

The boreal lichen consists of two different organisms, a ‘mycobiont’ (a fungus) and a ‘phycobiont’ (a cyanobacterium – a bacterium that can photosynthesise), which live together in a symbiotic association.  The presence of the cyanobacteria makes the boreal felt lichen particularly sensitive to atmospheric pollution such as acid rain.

The boreal felt lichen was formerly known from Norway, Sweden, and Canada. Today, the species is thought to be restricted to two disjunct populations: a boreal population on Newfoundland, and a vastly depleted Atlantic population on Nova Scotia. The remaining populations are found in cool, moist, old-growth coniferous forests, and grow predominately on the trunks of balsam fir (Abies balsamea).

In addition to being highly sensitive to atmospheric pollutants such as acid rain, the boreal felt lichen is extremely vulnerable to habitat loss. Logging and air pollution have contributed towards a decline of more than 90% of the Atlantic population.

The Atlantic population of the boreal felt lichen is protected in Canada under the Federal Species at Risk Act (SARA), and is the focus of an ongoing recovery strategy. Crucially, efforts are being made, through land purchases and agreements with landowners, to formally protect areas of forest that are home to this rare species. Furthermore, conservationists are engaging with private and government forest managers to encourage their participation in the mapping of boreal felt lichen habitats and the implementation of management plans that will prevent further habitat loss.

Find out more about the boreal felt lichen at the Government of Canada Species at Risk Public Registry.

See images of the boreal felt lichen on ARKive.

Phoebe Shaw Stewart, ARKive Text Author.

Mar 1
Female addax and young

Addax (Addax nasomaculatus)

Species: Addax (Addax nasomaculatus)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting Fact: An addax is able to obtain all the water it requires from the food it consumes.

The addax is a desert antelope that is well adapted to its harsh habitat. It has splayed hooves that help it to travel more easily across sand. Its short, glossy coat is grey-brown in winter, fading to almost white during the summer, and both sexes possess the distinctive long, twisted horns.

These antelope are mainly active during the night. In the day, they dig ‘beds’ into the sand in shady areas to avoid the heat of the desert sun, which also shelters them from sandstorms. Small nomadic herds of this species spend the majority of their time wandering in search of food. These herds previously contained around 20 individuals, but today they are found in groups of four or less.

Once found across northern Africa, wild addax populations now only exist in a fragment of their former range. This dramatic decrease is mainly attributed to over-hunting, as their meat and leather is prized by local people. Other factors contributing to their decline include desertification, drought and habitat encroachment. It is estimated that fewer than five hundred individuals survive in the wild today, with the bulk of these found between the Termit region in eastern Niger and the Bodélé region in western Chad.

International trade of the addax is prohibited and the Sahara Conservation Fund has developed a regional strategy to protect the remaining wild populations and facilitate the re-colonisation of suitable habitats. A protected population exists in the Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve in Israel that was set up in 1968 to bolster populations of endangered desert species. There are currently around 2,000 individuals in captivity around the world that are being used in reintroduction programmes in Tunisia and Morocco.

Find out more about the addax at the Sahara Conservation Fund and WildAddax.

See images and videos of the addax on ARKive.

Phoebe Shaw Stewart, ARKive Text Author

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