This species was described from the Bamboutos Mountains in the Bamenda Highlands of western Cameroon, between the altitudes of 2,300-2,700 m asl. It may also occur on Mount Oku in the Bamenda Highlands. However, despite ongoing surveys at Mount Oku, it has not yet been found there (N. Gonwouo pers. comm. May 2012). The species range is based on its type locality which is herein considered to be one threat-defined location. Thus, using its range as a proxy, its extent of occurrence (EOO) has been calculated as 74 km
Habitat and Ecology
The species lives in bamboo forest and, in the rainy season, grazed montane grasslands where it hides under rocks in seepage areas. Surveys in September 2004 and July 2006 found it in open pasture under rocks and logs (Blackburn pers. comm. May 2012). It lives in drier areas than other members of its genus. It has never been found at its breeding sites, but it is likely to breed in small streams in rocky areas.
It is most common above 2,400-2,450 m asl.
Major ongoing threats include the destruction and degradation of its type locality caused by advanced deforestation; encroaching human settlements; agricultural expansion which expands onto the higher elevations; overgrazing and cattle trespassing; fire used to maintain pasture; and the degradation of its 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 and it may be susceptible to microhabitat changes caused by climate change, including alteration of temperature and moisture gradients, and rainfall patterns (N. Gonwouo pers. comm. May 2012). However, this necessitates further research.
This species is not known from any protected areas and habitat protection is urgently needed in the Bamboutos Mountains. To ensure the survival of the species and prevent the total destruction of its habitat, an in situ conservation project is recommended. This project should include raising awareness among local people. However, in view of its tiny known range, increasing human impacts and any potential impacts of climate change, a captive breeding programme should probably also be established (N. Gonwouo pers. comm. June 2012). Additional research into its population status, distribution, life history, and the potential impact of climate change, is needed.
Red List Status
Critically Endangered (CR)
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, 2013. Leptodactylodon axillaris. In: IUCN 2014