This species is known only from two threat-defined locations in Sri Lanka: the type locality, Handapan Ella Plains (near Suriyakanda) at 1,270 m asl; and Morningside Forest Reserve, near Rakwana at 1,060 m asl, 10 km from the type locality (Meegaskumbura and Manamendra-Arachchi 2005). The species is threatened by habitat loss, which differs in intensity between these two sites. Its extent of occurrence (EOO) is estimated to be 12 km
Habitat and Ecology
This is an arboreal species found only in closed-canopy cloud forest of the Rakwana Mountains in sub-canopy forest and shrubs. It can also be found in areas with cardamom as the understorey. Males are usually seen calling from their perches on leaves around one to three metres above the ground. They are dependent on environments with high relative humidity for reproduction and are seen in higher densities in marshy habitats. It is presumed to be a direct developer like other species of the genus. Its dependence on high humidity makes it particularly vulnerable to any modification of the habitat resulting in the opening up of the forest canopy.
It is considered to be relatively uncommon. However, a recent survey produced observations of 20 individuals over a three-hour period (M. Meegaskumbura pers. comm. 2014). There are no data to indicate population declines.
Neither Morningside Forest nor Handapan Ella Plains is legally protected, although since 1989 Morningside has enjoyed "administrative protection" as a result of government policy (Janzen and Bopage 2011, R. Pethiyagoda pers. comm. 2014). While the government has purchased much of the land around Morningside, there is still pressure from land use within the area; a tea/cardamom plantation operates at the centre of the reserve and there is illegal clearing of understory to establish small parcels for cardamom cultivation (R. Pethiyagoda pers. comm. 2014). There is need for improved protection of the area and incorporation of Morningside into the contiguous Sinharaja World Heritage Site would help prevent future loss of remaining forest habitat (R. Pethiyagoda pers. comm. 2014). Research is needed to better understand its life history, population status and current threats.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2014. Pseudophilautus poppiae. In: IUCN 2014