Madagascar is a hotspot of amphibian species richness, with over 380 native frog species, all of which are endemic to the island. However, of those species that have been assessed by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species , over half are categorised as either threatened or Data Deficient.
Mantella cowanii – Cowan’s or harlequin mantella -is one of Madagascar’s threatened amphibians, currently classified as Endangered. It is known to occur in just four small locations in the Central Highlands, with those populations highly isolated from one another. None of these populations are currently included within a protected area.
This small but striking frog is primarily threatened by habitat destruction, but also potentially hybridization and climate change. In the past, this species has been the subject of over-collection for the pet trade, with a peak of 1520 individuals exported in 2002. Trade in live specimens was banned in 2003.
To improve conservation action for this frog stakeholders, including many members of ASG Madagascar, have produced a new action plan – Mantella cowanii Action Plan (McAP) – the output of a workshop that was held in December 2018.
This plan, which covers the period 2021 – 2025, summarises the current state of knowledge of M. cowanii population status, taxonomy, and ecology, and of the threats facing the species. It goes on to describe the institutional framework for conservation management in Madagascar by listing the key stakeholders, vision, goals, objectives, and conservation actions needed. The new plan succeeds the first M. cowanii Action Plan, produced a decade earlier.
McAP was officially presented to all stakeholders including authorities and technical partners in Antananarivo, Madagascar, on Thursday, September 23rd.