This species is known only from high altitudes (2,000-2,600 m asl) in western Cameroon. Records indicate it occurs in the Bamboutos Mountains, Lake Oku, and Mount Neshele in the Bafut-Ngemba Forest Reserve. Its extent of occurrence (EOO) is 2,452 km².
Habitat and Ecology
This species lives in grassy marshes, around lakes, and along streams and watercourses in montane forest, shrubland and grassland. Its breeding habitat is not fully known, but it appears to be less tied to flowing water than other members of its genus.
No quantitative population status information is currently available for this species. However, due to ongoing habitat loss its population is suspected to be decreasing and, as with other water-dependent high-elevation amphibians endemic to West and Central Africa, its population is considered to be severely fragmented. The rationale for the severe fragmentation is that the species' dispersal ability is considered to be very limited; its habitat is being gradually fragmented by human activities and these fragments are separated by large extents of unsuitable habitat (further restricting its dispersal ability); and over half the population is estimated to occur in fragmented habitat patches.
Major threats to this species are advanced deforestation; encroaching human settlements; agricultural expansion, which expands onto higher elevations on Mount Bamboutos; overgrazing and cattle trespassing into the forest to drink from the streams; and the degradation of its aquatic habitat caused by the use of agricultural herbicides and pesticides (N. Gonwouo pers. comm. May 2012). As it is a high-elevation species, agricultural activities may push it to the extreme part of its elevational range where it may be susceptible to microhabitat changes caused by climate change including alteration of temperature and moisture gradients, and rainfall patterns, but this necessitates further research (N. Gonwouo pers. comm. May 2012).
It occurs in the Bafut-Ngemba Forest Reserve, but is largely unprotected elsewhere in its range. A conservation project was conducted on Mount Oku for several years by BirdLife International, which involved community management of the area involving the local villages. However, the project ended in the mid-2000s. Thus, it is recommended that the species' habitat be protected and that the management of the Forest Reserve be improved. Further survey work is needed to determine the species' current population status, life history and ecology, and threats. Monitoring is required to inform the population's trends.
Red List Status
This species is listed as Endangered because its extent of occurrence (EOO) is estimated at 2,055 km², its population is considered to be severely fragmented, and the extent and quality of its habitat in the highlands of western Cameroon is declining.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2015. Astylosternus ranoides. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T54423A16862507. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-2.RLTS.T54423A16862507.en