This species is known from the northern Peruvian Andes near the surroundings of Celendín, Abra Comulica, San Miguel de Pallaques, and in the Province of Hualgayoc, all in the Department of Cajamarca. It is (or was) present at Charco, Huari Province, Department of Áncash, and also in the Department of Piura. Its elevational range is from 2,600–4,300 m asl.
Habitat and Ecology
It inhabits puna and sub-puna (high altitude) habitats, with scattered tussock grass and Baccharis sp. This species is sensitive to habitat degradation. Breeding takes place in streams, with larvae adhering to the undersides of rocks in fast flowing streams at a depth of approximately 30 cm.
This species was very abundant in many localities of Cajamarca and Celendín until 1992, but apparently declined between 1995 and 1998 and has not been observed since 1998 despite increased efforts to find it (Venegas et al. 2008, Miranda Leiva 2008, R. Schulte pers. comm.). In 1998, surveys in Cajamarca detected 20 individuals over eight person-days (von May et al. 2008). Surveys in Cajamarca and Ancash during 2002–2007 were futile; no individuals were observed over 112 person-days of surveys (von May et al. 2008). There is a possibility that this species may be extinct (A. Miranda Leiva pers. comm. March 2018), however if a population still exists it is thought to have less than 50 individuals.
The disappearance of the species from its entire range happened during a period (mid- to late-1990s) when several species known to be susceptible to chytridiomycosis disappeared from streams in montane cloud forest, suggesting that an outbreak of this fungal disease played a role in these declines. A subpopulation in Cajamarca was previously lost due to water contamination from activities at a nearby gold mine. It has previously been reported in the pet trade, although this appears to have ceased.
It has been recorded from Parque Nacional Huascarán, and might be present in Reserva Nacional Calipuy and Santuario Nacional Calipuy. In August 2008, the species was declared extinct throughout its range at the "Simpósio Internacional sobre Declinación de Poblaciones de Anfibios Altoandinos de los Países: Ecuador, Venezuela y Peru" (Miranda Leiva 2008, A. Miranda Leiva pers. comm. March 2018). It is listed as Critically Endangered (CR) in Peru and has legal protection provided by the Categorization in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna (Decreto Supremo Nº004-2014-MINAGRI), which bans all hunting, capture, possession, transport or export of the species for commercial purposes.
Disease management and captive-breeding programmes appear necessary given the threat of chytridiomycosis.
It is a very high priority to conduct surveys to locate this species and determine its current population status. There is a possibility that this species may be already extinct.
Red List Status
Critically Endangered (CR)
Listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct) given that, after it experienced a precipitous population decline in the mid 1990s, no individuals have been reported since 1998, despite intensive and ongoing searches in suitable habitat in historical localities, suggesting that if this species is still extant the pool of remaining mature individuals is likely fewer than 50.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2018. Atelopus peruensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T54539A89196220. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T54539A89196220.en .Downloaded on 23 January 2019