This species is endemic to the mountains of south central Ethiopia (Arsi, Balé, Sidamo and Gamo Gofa Provinces) at 1,950-3,520 m asl. With the exception of the subpopulation in the Gughe Mountains, which is based on a single specimen whose identity is questionable and is not mapped here (D. Gower and S. Loader pers. comm. June 2012), all records are from east of the Rift Valley. Taking all of its known geographical localities into consideration, its geographic range, here taken as a proxy for extent of occurrence (EOO), is estimated to be 56 km2. However, recent and intense surveys have failed to locate this species across its range (D. Gower pers. comm. November 2012), indicating a significant population decline. If still extant it is estimated to occur in possibly 4-5 threat-defined locations.
Habitat and Ecology
It is essentially a species of montane forest, though perhaps extending marginally into open moorland. It has been observed breeding in a small, probably temporary, pool in a grassy glade surrounded by Hypericum woodland in April. It has larval development from long strings of eggs (Grandison 1978).
It was once locally common within its range (1971-1986; Gower et al. 2013); however, only one verified specimen has been recorded since 1986 and one photo report was obtained in 2003 (in Katcha, in the Harenna Forest; M. Hoffmann pers. comm. August 2012), despite extensive survey work from 2006-2011 (Gower et al. 2013). Given the absence of recent records there is no information on whether the population is severely fragmented; however, the population has declined drastically from levels before 1990 (Gower et al. 2013). It is therefore likely that, if this species still persists, it may be doing so in small numbers, possibly no more than 50 mature individuals.
While it has not been recorded recently, the area where it historically occurred is threatened by environmental degradation resulting from human settlement, specifically the destruction of forests through subsistence exploitation (Gower et al. 2013). Chytrid fungus occurs in high prevalence in amphibians in highland Ethiopia (Gower et al. 2012), although its impact on this species is not known.
A part of this species' historical range lies within the Bale Mountains National Park (Gower et al. 2013), although this protected area is not formally gazetted. There is a long-running conservation programme in the Bale Mountains National Park (Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority and Frankfurt Zoological Society; Frankfurt Zoological Society 2007), but there is a lack of amphibian-specific activities and there is increasing encroachment within the Park, so improved park management is needed (Frankfurt Zoological Society 2007, Gower et al. 2013). Additional actions needed include the protection of remaining montane forest habitats from subsistence exploitation. It is an urgent priority to find any surviving individuals. More information is needed on this species' distribution, population status, natural history and threats. It is listed on Appendix I of CITES (as Spinophrynoides osgoodi), though it is not present in international trade.
Red List Status
Critically Endangered (CR)
Listed as Critically Endangered given that this species has undergone a precipitous population decline that appears to date back 26 years and, considering that no individuals have been found in spite of more recent and intensive surveys, it is likely that if this species is still extant it would be surviving in low numbers, possibly no more than 50 mature individuals.
Most of the recent publications have treated this as a species of Spinophrynoides (Gower et al. 2012).
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2014. Altiphrynoides osgoodi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T54886A16948933. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-1.RLTS.T54886A16948933.en