This species is restricted to the mountains of eastern Nigeria and western Cameroon at 850–1,850 m Asl. There are records from the Obudu Plateau and the higher parts of the Oban Hills in Nigeria, and from the Bakossi Hills, Rumpi Hills, Mount Kupe, Mount Manengouba, Mount Nlonako, and the Bamileke plateau (Petit Diboum, Mount Bana, Fotabong and Foto) in Cameroon. Its EOO is 23,930 km2.
Habitat and Ecology
This species lives in submontane and montane primary and secondary forest, degraded forest, and dense brush where it breeds in still pools along mountain streams. It does not appear to survive in completely open habitats.
In 2006 the species was found to be abundant at 1,400 m Asl on Mount Manengouba (N. Gonwouo pers. comm. June 2012), but rare at 1,000 m Asl on Mount Nlonako. However, as with other species found on Mount Manengouba, it is likely that the overall abundance may have decreased (M. Hirschfeld pers. comm. June 2012). Due to ongoing human activity within its range, the species' habitat is increasingly fragmented, with over 50% of its population found in isolated patches. Furthermore, as it is a high-altitude species, it is considered unlikely to be able to disperse between fragments, let alone between high-altitude habitat.
Although it is somewhat adaptable, it is generally affected by agricultural expansion, logging, and human settlements, especially when these lead to serious opening up of the habitat.
On Mount Manengouba, 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 degrades its habitat; the use of herbicides and pesticides here is suspected to have long-term effects on the stream habitat, affecting the larval stage, and this threat is expected to increase as human activity in the area increases (N. Gonwouo pers. comm. June 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 the method of tree ringing. The tree's bark is used in small amounts 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 (N. Gonwouo pers. comm. May 2012).
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 was not tested for Bd during the Hirschfeld et al. (2016), but other species in the genus, but other species in the genus had mixed results.
This species occurs in the Cross River National Park in Nigeria.
While Mount Manengouba has been proposed as a protected area, there is a need for improved habitat protection of all montane forest habitats in Cameroon.
More information is needed on this species' distribution, population status, natural history and threats, and monitoring efforts are also needed to determine the population trend of this species.
Red List Status
Near Threatened (NT)
Listed as Near Threatened because its extent of occurrence (EOO) is 23,930 km2, its population is considered to be severely fragmented, and there is a continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat in the mountains of eastern Nigeria and western Cameroon, making it close to qualifying for Vulnerable under criterion B.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group 2017. Phrynobatrachus cricogaster. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T58103A16928501. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-2.RLTS.T58103A16928501.en .Downloaded on 17 January 2019