New Frog Species Found, Already Recommended For Endangered Listing

Gonçalo M. Rosa

The good news: scientists have discovered a colorful new species of tree frog in a nature preserve in northwestern Madagascar.

The bad news: due to how small the area is in which the frog is found and the continuing degradation of forest habitat on the island of Madagascar, off the eastern coast of Africa, the researchers who discovered the animal are recommending that it be listed as "critically endangered," meaning there is a very high likelihood that the animal will go extinct in the wild in the near future.

Boophis ankarafensis, as the scientists have dubbed the amphibian, is bright green with red speckles red on its head and back. It was found on the Sahamalaza Peninsula in the Ankarafa forest, from whence its name comes.

The frog's call—a series of high-pitched trills, followed by three clicks—differs slightly from related frog species, which stop at a pair of clicks. Its body size and coloration are also slightly different; genetic analysis proved that it is indeed a separate species, according to a study describing the animal published today in the journal ZooKeys.

Although the Sahamalaza-Iles Radama National Park, where the frog is found, remains protected in name, deforestation is rampant in the surrounding forests, the researchers wrote.

"Much of this destruction is concentrated on the streamside forests which this species relies upon," the authors added. Deforestation is carried out by farmers, miners, and loggers, and the Madagascar government has, to date, not been effective at stopping it all.

"A halt to all forest destruction and agricultural practices within the park must occur immediately to stop any further decline" of the area's native amphibians, including two other species known solely from the Sahamalaza Peninsula, "or risk their possible extinction within the near future," the scientists wrote.