Metastring Foundation

Lesser-known Species Grant 2019

Project Name:

Citizen-based conservation of the Malabar Tree Toad

Project Brief:

The Malabar Tree Toad is an endangered species that is endemic to the Western Ghats and threatened primarily due to fragmentation of its habitat and deforestation. Other potential threats to the species include changes in rainfall patterns due to climate change and enhanced exposure to infectious diseases. Scant knowledge of its distribution, population status, and ecology has constrained the assessment of the conservation status of this species, in turn affecting conservation action. This project aims to build a long-term conservation strategy for this species by developing local capacity for amphibian surveys and monitoring, and assess the conservation status of this species.

Project objectives:
  • Assess the conservation status and needs of the Malabar tree toad through citizen-based field surveys.
  • Identify priority areas and habitats of the Malabar tree toad.
  • Develop local capacity for surveying and monitoring the species status.
Highlights from the field:
  • Eight potential survey sites in the Western Ghats regions of Karnataka, Kerala, Goa, and Maharashtra have been shortlisted for the survey and necessary permits have been applied for.
  • Contact details of 53 people across the four states who could potentially act as local team leaders have been recorded and the team is in constant contact with this network.
  • Since January 2020, the team has received 91 reports of Malabar tree Toad sightings from across the Western Ghats.
  • Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the field survey that was planned for this pre- monsoon season has to be postponed to 2021. However, the interim period is being used to strengthen online engagement.
  • The Frog Watch App, under which users can share their sightings of various frog and toad species, has been launched. The data received is constantly being recorded and analysed to understand the distribution and habitat preferences of each species so appropriate conservation action can be implemented.