This species is known only from La Brea, near Saija River, Guangui, Cauca Department, in the Pacific lowlands of Colombia, where it has been recorded between 50 and 200 m asl. The species may occur more widely to the north, but the region is poorly explored and civil unrest has made additional survey efforts difficult. The EOO for the current known range, which is comprised of three records over an area of about 8 km, is 50 km2.
Habitat and Ecology
This species lives mainly on the ground in undisturbed, lowland rainforest, but it can also be found perching on leaves at different levels above the ground. It can be found in disturbed areas, such as cocoa plantations, that are near forest (Colombia Red List Assessment Workshop August 2016). This species lays its eggs in humid microhabitats, such as moss or leaf-litter (Colombia Red List Assessment Workshop August 2016). The larvae are transported by the female to bromeliads or fallen palm leaves where water has accumulated. The larvae feed on unfertilized eggs deposited by females in these tiny water bodies and complete their development.
The species is difficult to detect (as per its scientific name), probably due to its minute size. Several individuals, however, were found in 2012 (D. Mejía unpubl. data 2016) and three more were photographed in 2016 (J. Guerrero-Vargas pers. comm. August 2016). The population trend is suspected to be decreasing due to ongoing decline in the quality and extent of its habitat, and it seems to require the presence and proximity of its forest habitat to survive.
Major threats to the species are illegal mining, cultivation of illegal crops, and pollution resulting from the spraying of illegal crops. A potential future threat is the international pet trade, however civil unrest is currently preventing wider exploitation of the area (Colombia Red List Assessment Workshop August 2016).
This species does not occur in any protected area. Decree INDERENA No. 39 of 9 July, 1985, forbids the collection of Dendrobates spp. (from which Oophaga was split) from the wild for breeding (or other) purposes. It is listed on Appendix II of CITES.
This species would likely benefit from improved habitat protection in the Pacific lowlands of Colombia (Colombia Red List Assessment Workshop August 2016).
Surveys to determine the range of the species, once it is safe to do so, are needed to better determine conservation measures. More information is needed on this species' population status, ecology, and threats.
Red List Status
Critically Endangered (CR)
Listed as Critically Endangered because of its extent of occurrence (EOO) of 50 km2, it is considered to occur in one threat-defined location, and there is a continuing decline in the quality of its habitat caused by mining and illicit crops. The species almost certainly occurs more widely, but civil unrest has prevented additional survey efforts. If the species is found more widely, it may qualify for Endangered.
This species is considered to be a derivative of Oophaga histrionica by Myers and Daly (1976).
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2017. Oophaga occultator. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T55194A85891333. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T55194A85891333.en .Downloaded on 19 January 2019