This species is known only from a single threat-defined location - its type locality - in the western Chimanimani Mountains in eastern Zimbabwe, where it occurs above 1,500 m asl (Poynton 1963). However, the Chimanimani Mountains extend into Mozambique so the species is likely to occur across the border. Its extent of occurrence (EOO) is 20 km2.
Habitat and Ecology
Most of the specimens were collected in sinkholes or caves and a few were found in open montane grassland. It presumably breeds by direct development.
It is probably a rare species. It was not found during a survey in 2010, but this may have been due to the time of year, e.g. not during the rains (J. Harvey pers. comm. 2012). There have been no records since this species was discovered in 1962 (when 16 specimens were collected) and it is thought that this species could be possibly extinct.
There is very little direct information available for this poorly known species and threats to the species are not well understood. During a survey in 2010, the vicinity of the type locality was found to be intact (J. Harvey pers. comm. 2012). However, there are both diamond and gold mining activities locally. The diamond mine at Chimanimani is currently outside the national park, but artisanal mining is known to have caused significant riparian damage on the Zimbabwe side (supposedly worse in the southern part of the park) and is also known to take place in fluvial areas on the Mozambique side (M. Cunningham pers. comm. 2012). Furthermore, rumours were circulating during a visit in 2010 that the government was considering deproclaiming part of the national park for a commercial gold mine (M. Cunningham pers. comm. 2012). Thus, considering the available data, it is not implausible that mining activities pose a threat to the species. Finally, as with other species occurring in isolated montane habitats, it could be at risk from the effects of climate change.
The area from which it has been recorded is protected, primarily in the Chimanimani National Park, but the level and effectiveness of protection is unknown.
Conservation measures can be recommended if this species is recorded again.
Research is needed on this species' taxonomic status, distribution, population status and natural history. Surveys are urgently needed to relocate this species and should also aim to determine population trends.
Red List Status
Critically Endangered (CR)
Listed as Critically Endangered because its extent of occurrence (EOO) is 20 km², it occurs in one threat-defined location and there is ongoing decline in the extent and quality of habitat. It has been tagged as Possibly Extinct as it was last seen in 1962 and recent surveys in 2010 failed to detect this species, although it is acknowledged that it may not have been an optimum time in which to detect the species (e.g. not during rains).
There are serious 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 2016. Arthroleptis troglodytes. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T54389A77165733. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T54389A77165733.en .Downloaded on 16 November 2018