This species is known only from a few mountain tops in western Cameroon, specifically Mount Nlonako, the western and southern slopes of Mount Manengouba, and the southern portion of the Bamileke Plateau (at Mount Bana, Foto and Batie). The species is found at these three threat-defined locations at an altitude of 1,200–1,900 m Asl. Its EOO is 1,262 km2.
Habitat and Ecology
The species lives in montane forest, including secondary forest and forest edges, and raffia palm swamps. It calls from the canopy of trees close to streams in which it breeds (which is unusual for a species in this genus).
It is generally an uncommon species. Due to ongoing decline in the extent and quality of habitat, the population is suspected to be decreasing.
Declines and extinctions of many amphibian populations have been attributed to chytridiomycosis, a disease induced by the pathogenic fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). However the study conducted by Hirsfield et al. (2016), shows that not all species' populaitons decreased; populations of some species remained constant, and others increased after the emergence of Bd. This variation might be explained by species-specific differences in infection probability. This species was found more after the emergence of Bd.
The major threat is increasing habitat loss as a result of agricultural encroachment, including plantations of tree crops; expanding human settlements; and removal of wood by local people for firewood and building materials. On Mount Manengouba, trampling by livestock in the forest is a threat to this species and its habitat (N. Gonwouo pers. comm. May 2012). Deforestation on Mount Manengouba also occurs due to the unsustainable collection of bark from Prunus africanus—a high-elevation tree endemic to the Cameroon highlands—by tree ringing. The tree's bark is used in small amount for medicinal purposes by local people. However, it is also sold to pharmaceutical companies in large amounts, in which case all the bark is removed from the individual trees resulting in their death. The consequence of the latter practice changes the microclimate required for the species' survival. Furthermore, as with other high-elevation species, the species' habitat may be affected by climate change, although further studies are needed to determine the impact of climate change.
A retrospective study analysing amphibian population declines (between 2004–2012) confirms the emergence of Bd in 2008 on Mount Oku and in 2011 on Mount Manengouba, suggesting that chytridiomycosis has driven community level declines of anuran biodiversity in this hotspot area (Hirschfeld et al. 2016). This species tested negative for Bd (Hirschfeld et al. 2016) so its susceptibility to infection remains unknown. Stresses such as habitat loss are suspected to make amphibian species more susceptible to declines caused by chytridiomycosis, so this species could still be at risk of declines caused by infection (M.-O. Rödel pers. comm. July 2016).
This species does not occur in any protected areas.
The protected area network in western Cameroon urgently needs to be expanded to include the remaining montane forest habitats, particularly those on Mount Manengouba, which has been proposed as a protected area. Furthermore, on Mount Manengouba, the harvesting of Prunus africanus should be sustainably managed and the management programme should include efforts to educate local people.
More information is needed on the species' population status, natural history and the threat posed by climate change. Monitoring is also required to establish the species' population trends.
Red List Status
Listed as Endangered because its extent of occurrence (EOO) is 1,262 km2, it is known from three threat-defined locations, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2017. Afrixalus lacteus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T56066A16814704. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-2.RLTS.T56066A16814704.en .Downloaded on 19 February 2019