This species is known from Niassa, Mabu, and Namuli in northern Mozambique (S. Loader pers. comm. October 2015), the mountains of southern Malawi east of the Shire Valley (with no records yet from Mount Mulanje, although it is likely to occur there), and in Tanzania from the Nguru, Rubeho, Uluguru, Mahenge and Udzungwa Mountains, and Ubena in the Southern Highlands. Neither the limits of its range nor its altitudinal range are well known, but it is generally montane occuring above 1,000 m asl, but also occurs at lower elevations - in some places down to around 500 m asl. Mapped to known sites, its extent of occurrence (EOO) is 232,358 km2.
Habitat and Ecology
It is a soil-dwelling species found in montane and submontane forest. It also survives in secondary habitat such as small-holder agricultural areas (S. Loader and D. Gower pers. comm. August 2012) and fruit plantations. If it is similar to other Scolecomorphus species, it is likely to be viviparous and does not depend on water bodies for reproduction.
It is locally abundant. The species has been seen across its range since 2000 and was last seen in 2012 (H. Müller pers. comm. August 2012). Its known distribution appears to be severely fragmented, but there has been little to no surveying in the intervening areas (D. Gower and S. Loader pers. comm. August 2012). There is no information about its population status.
There are no known major threats, but assuming that soil moisture and temperature maintained by vegetation is important for the species, possible threats include habitat disturbance and conversion caused by deforestation and agricultural intensification (including the application of agricultural herbicides and pesticides) (D. Gower and S. Loader pers. comm. August 2012). It is not known to what extent these activities may threaten this species.
In Tanzania, it occurs in the Uluguru Nature Reserve, Mahenge Forest Reserve (a proposed Nature Reserve), Udzungwa National Park and Forest Reserves, Rubeho Forest Reserve (it does not occur in any protected areas in the Southern Highlands). In Malawi, parts of the highlands in the south are afforded some level of protection.
Further protection of habitat in protected areas is required.
Further research is needed on its population status and trends, life history and ecology, the effect of ongoing threats on the species, and necessary conservation actions.
Red List Status
Least Concern (LC)
Listed as Least Concern in view of its reasonably wide distribution, presumed large population, and its tolerance of a degree of habitat modification.
The type locality is not known and the specific status of the different geographic populations requires further research (S. Loader pers. comm. October 2015).
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2016. Scolecomorphus kirkii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T59651A16944395. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T59651A16944395.en .Downloaded on 15 February 2019