This species is known from two mountainous geographic localities: the Mount Mulanje foothills and Mount Zomba in southern Malawi, which are 90 km apart. It is thought that there is much suitable rock face habitat between them between these massifs, and the species is presumed to occur in this intervening area (A. Channing pers. comm. February 2017). Dispersal may therefore be possible between the two massifs. Currently, it is only known from the base of Mount Mulanje at 950 m asl and up to 1,850 m Asl on Zomba. The EOO of its range is 2,250 km2.
Habitat and Ecology
It is a rupicolous species, associated with open rock faces, often hiding in clumps of vegetation growing out of cracks in the rock. The surrounding environment is usually moist savannah or montane forest. The larvae develop on rock faces covered by a film of water, where they feed on algae.
The population status of this species is unknown as very few records have been made since its original description (Stevens 1972). A survey in 2005 (led by Michael Cunningham) and one in 2009 failed to record the species (J. Harvey pers. comm. June 2012), but tadpoles and juveniles were recorded in January 2017 (A. Channing pers. comm. February 2017).
As this species is found on rock faces in the foothills at the base of Mt Mulanje, it avoids the threat of the loss of its forest habitat on Mount Mulanje caused by encroaching subsistence agriculture, the extraction of firewood and logging of native hardwoods which are sold by local people. The habitats occupied by the species looked intact and healthy in January 2017 (A. Channing pers. comm. January 2017), with tadpoles and juveniles being present.
The loss of forest habitat might result in a reduction of water seeping over rocks, thus destroying its breeding habitat. Other potential threats include uncontrolled fires, which, in 2011, damaged many areas of suitable habitat (Conradie 2011), and the spreading of exotic pines and Eucalyptus throughout the plateaus and lower slopes (pines and Eucalyptus were planted locally in plantations, and are both invading and replacing the natural vegetation).
It occurs in the Mount Mulanje Forest Reserve (also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve) and Zomba Mountain Forest Reserve, both of which are in need of continued and strengthened management.
It is recommended that the taxonomy of the Mulanje and Zomba subpopulations be investigated for any possible divergence. More information is needed on this species' distribution (especially between known subpopulations), population status, natural history, and threats.
Red List Status
Near Threatened (NT)
Listed as Near Threatened because its extent of occurrence (EOO) is 2,250 km2 and it could occur in at least two, but fewer than ten, threat-defined locations should low-level threats to the species caused by habitat degradation and conversion be confirmed as affecting the species. Presently, however, the species' population is not severely fragmented, not declining, nor showing extreme fluctuations. These factors make the species close to qualifying for Vulnerable under criterion B.
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, South African Frog Re-assessment Group (SA-FRoG) 2017. Ptychadena broadleyi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T58494A17168583. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-2.RLTS.T58494A17168583.en .Downloaded on 20 January 2019