This species is known from southern and southwestern China (Mengyang in Jinghong County and Mengla County in Yunnan Province, and Longzhou and Pingxiang in Guangxi Province), south to the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Bokeo, Khammouan and Phongsaly Provinces, Viet Nam (Gia Lai, Ha Tinh, Lao Cai, Quang Binh and Than Hoa Provinces), and northern and western Thailand (Doi Chiang Dao in Chiang Mai Province and "Me Wang, in northern Thailand") (Ohler and Delorme, 2006). Although there are likely to be some undiscovered populations, its distribution is probably severely fragmented due to the loss of mature lowland rainforests through much of its range, and Ohler and Delorme (2006) estimate that only about 1,500km2 of suitable habitat remains within its range. It is expected to occur in Myanmar, and a record from West Bengal in India needs confirmation (Ohler and Delorme, 2006). It occurs up to about 1,400m asl, though it occurs mainly at lower elevations.
Habitat and Ecology
It has been recorded from primary and secondary evergreen rainforest with a closed canopy, generally at low elevations (Ohler and Delorme, 2006). It appears to avoid forest on mountain slopes (Ohler and Delorme, 2006). It has also been observed in forest edge near villages. It is a canopy species that makes foam nests above pools and ponds inside forests (Ohler and Delorme, 2006). Adults probably spend most of the time in the upper forest strata. It is an explosive breeder that apparently descends from the canopy only occasionally to congregate at breeding pools, attracting about a dozen animals.
In most places, the populations of this species are not large, though it is considered to be common in suitable habitat in southern China. Its rarity in museum collections is partly due to the small size of its breeding populations, and partly due to its arboreal behaviour (Ohler and Delorme, 2006). In one locality, more than ten males could be observed in a tree at a breeding site (Ohler and Delorme, 2006).
The main threat is the loss of its rainforest habitat and potentially water pollution. Removal of mature lowland forest through logging, agricultural expansion and human settlements has probably reduced the available habitat to less than 1,500km2 (Ohler and Delorme, 2006).
In southeast Asia, this species is confirmed from only a single protected area (Doi Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary in Viet Nam). In China the species occurs in the Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve. Surveys are needed to verify its occurrence in adequately protected areas (particularly the Lao, Vietnames and Thai populations), and to identify any undiscovered populations (including in Myanmar, and possibly in India). The conservation of mature lowland rainforest is essentail for this species. The listing of 'Threatened' for R. nigropalmatus in the 1992 Viet Nam Red Data Book (Tran et al., 1992) probably refers to R. reinwardtii, at least in part.
We follow Ohler and Delorme (2005) in separating this species from Rhacophorus reinwardtii. Some populations of this species have previously been treated as Rhacophorus nigropalmatus.
Annemarie Ohler, Yang Datong, Lu Shunqing, Michael Wai Neng Lau 2008. Rhacophorus kio. In: IUCN 2014