This species occurs in the montane regions of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Its range, taken as a proxy for extent of occurrence (EOO) is estimated to be 12,498 km
Habitat and Ecology
This frog lives in the leaf-litter of montane forest. It has been found in relatively pristine bamboo forest (E. Greenbaum pers. comm. February 2011), and is likely to require good vegetation cover. In Nyungwe it has recently been recorded from tropical moist montane forest between 1,780 and 1,850 m asl, and from bamboo forest 2,500 m asl (J.M. Dehling pers. comm. May 2011). Records from Gishwati are from moist montane forest 2,150 m asl (J.M. Dehling pers. comm. May 2011). In Kahuzi Biega National Park, it has been found at the edge of human-modified forests following land clearance for agriculture (E. Greenbaum pers. comm. February 2011), but it is unclear whether it is tolerant of more intensive land conversion or whether it can persist away from forested areas. It breeds by direct development, and is not dependent on standing water.
In Uganda's Impenetrable Forest the species is known from only five specimens (Drewes and Vindum 1994), but surveys of this region have been limited. It does not appear to be very common in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but individuals are encountered fairly regularly (E. Greenbaum unpubl. data) and there is no evidence of population decline in this area (E. Greenbaum pers. comm. February 2011). Due to agricultural intensification of western Rwanda, Rwandan subpopulations are confined to isolated forest patches in Nyungwe, Cyamudongo and Gishwati (formerly Bugoia) (C. Roelke pers. comm. March 2011, J.M. Dehling pers. comm. May 2011), from which recent data are available. However, a more recent, brief survey of Cyamudongo failed to detect this species (M. Menegon pers. comm. March 2011). Compared with other species of Arthroleptis found in Nyungwe National Park, this frog is rather scarce (M. Menegon pers. comm. March 2011). As the known reserves where this species occurs are expected to be large enough to support viable subpopulations of this small frog, it is not thought to be severely fragmented.
This frog is probably adversely affected by forest loss. Agriculture, timber and pole cutting and human settlements occur throughout this species' range. Deforestation is ongoing throughout Itombwe Plateau (Greenbaum et al. 2011). Elevations above 2,000 m asl on the plateau are heavily impacted by cattle grazing, burning for agriculture (Greenbaum et al. 2011), and mining (IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2010). The status of this species in Burundi is unknown; although it is likely to be exposed to deforestation within its Burundian range, it is presumably able to survive within protected areas in this country (E. Greenbaum pers. comm. June 2011).
This species occurs in many protected areas. Although there is heavy pressure on the Itombwe Plateau (E. Greenbaum pers. comm. February 2011) and a number of Rwandan forest isolates are likely to be under threat (C. Roelke pers. comm. March 2011), the situation in Rwanda is presently stable and the species is not likely to be subject to major threats here or in Bwindi, Uganda (C. Roelke pers. comm. March 2011). Additional habitat protection outside of protected areas is needed. Further taxonomic studies may help elucidate species identities in this complex and additional survey work may help determine the status of isolated forest patches in Rwanda.
We consider this species to be confined to central and eastern Africa; we follow J.-L. Amiet (pers. comm.) in considering records from Cameroon to belong to another, possibly undescribed, species. J.C. Poynton (pers. comm.) considers that animals from Kenya and Tanzania are probably specifically distinct from true A. adolfifriederici in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The name leleupi is available for Tanzanian and Kenyan animals. There are major taxonomic problems with the genus Arthroleptis through much of Africa. In many cases, the available names can be referred only to museum specimens, not to animals in the field. This is because the identification of these species frequently depends more on their vocalizations than their morphology.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2014. Arthroleptis adolfifriederici. In: IUCN 2014