This species occurs widely in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, from the Inyangani region to the Chirinda Forest, including sites in Mozambique. It is a montane species, probably occurring well above 1,000 m Asl. Records from Mount Gorongoza are no longer recognized as belonging to this species.
Habitat and Ecology
The species lives in montane grassland and forest, and also in bracken heathland. It is associated with streams and small rivers in which it presumably breeds. It is not known whether the species tolerates disturbance.
Its abundance is unknown within its range as few surveys have taken place in the region. It was recorded in the Chimanimani Mountains in 2010 (J. Harvey pers. comm. June 2012) but surveys since then have not recorded the species (R. Hopkins and M. Cunningham pers. comm. November 2015). Its population is not considered to be severely fragmented, but it is suspected to be decreasing due to continuing decline in the quality and extent of its habitat.
Its high-altitude habitat had been relatively intact up until the 2004 assessment. Currently, it is potentially at risk from the logging of pine plantations and small-scale logging by local people, overgrazing by livestock, and expanding human settlements, which also occur within some of the parks and protected areas. Alluvial gold mining and artisanal diamond mining are taking place in the Chimanimani mountains, which destroys the riparian habitat and greatly disturbs and pollutes the stream habitat. The natural habitat has been destroyed in areas where alien pine and eucalyptus plantations occur, and it is degraded where the invasive Black Wattle (Acacia mearnsii) has spread. Furthermore, chytrid fungus has been confirmed in species in the Chimanimani mountains (J. Harvey pers. comm. August 2012).
It occurs in Rhodes Nyanga National Park of the Inyanga region and possibly other neighbouring state parks. Vumba Mountain is partially protected by the Vumba Botanical Reserve and Bunga Forest Botanical Reserve, which in theory means the habitat is untouched, but it is impacted by alien plant species. The species also occurs in the Chimanimani National Park and Ngungunyana (formerly Gungunyana) State Forest.
Improved management of the protected areas within its range is needed to protect the species' habitat.
More information is needed on this species' distribution, population status, natural history, and threats; research into the taxonomy of the species is recommended, especially between the Zimbabwe and Mozambique subpopulations, and the possibility of two more species in eastern Zimbabwe.
Red List Status
Listed as Vulnerable because there is ongoing decline in its area of occupancy (AOO) which measures 1,981 km2 and therefore meets the threshold under B2. All individuals are found in fewer than ten threat-defined locations and there is a continuing decline in the number of subpopulations and mature individuals due to the continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, South African Frog Re-assessment Group (SA-FRoG) 2017. Strongylopus rhodesianus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T58771A17170633. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-2.RLTS.T58771A17170633.en .Downloaded on 23 February 2019