March 05, 2021

Find your Frog!

The South African Frog Atlas is being updated! We need your help by reporting your frog sightings. By better understanding where species are, we are better able to protect them and direct conservation efforts to where they are needed most. The 'Find your Frog’ Bioblitz will be accepting contributions during March. Photograph them, upload the details here and share your records to social media using #FindYourFrog you could win a R1000 & other spot froggy prizes.

Posted on March 05, 2021 12:19 by alexanderr alexanderr | 2 comments | Leave a comment

January 20, 2021

Four new Angolan species of Flat Geckos (Afroedura)

In a tribute to Bill Branch, four new species are described from Angola:

Afroedura donveae - which Bill named after his wife
Afreodura wulfhaackei - named after Wulf Haacke, ex Transvaal Museum herpetologist that was the first person to collect these geckos from Angola since the original type description
Afroedura vazpintorum - named after Afonso and Pedro Vaz Pinto, father and son team of Angolan naturalist and herpetologist
Afroedura praedicta - new species from Serre de Neve where Bill predicted a undescribed species to be present

Live photos: A. Afroedura bogerti; B. Afroedura wulfhaackei sp. nov.; C. Afroedura praedicta sp. nov. ; D. Afroedura donveae sp. nov.; E & F. Afroedura vazpintorum sp. nov.

Distribution ranges

"The description of these new species significantly restricts the distribution range of typical A. bogerti, a morphologically very similar species, from which they differ genetically by 5.9–12% divergence for the mitochondrial 16S ribosomal RNA gene. Morphologically and genetically, Angolan Afroedura are divided into two main groups: a mostly south-western coastal group and a west-central inland/highland group. These two groups are further divisible into three and two subgroups respectively, all geographically isolated, differing by a combination of the following features: colouration, average adult size, number of mid-body scale rows, number of scale rows on dorsal and ventral surface of each tail verticil and if nostril scales are in contact or not. All five Angolan species are morphologically distinguishable and in agreement with the molecular results. An updated dichotomous key to the Afroedura transvaalica group is provided."

Branch, W.R., Schmitz, A., Lobón-Rovira, J., Baptista, N.L., António, T. and Conradie, W., 2021. Rock island melody: A revision of the Afroedura bogerti Loveridge, 1944 group, with descriptions of four new endemic species from Angola. Zoosystematics and Evolution, 97, p.55.

Posted on January 20, 2021 12:22 by alexanderr alexanderr | 3 comments | Leave a comment

January 14, 2021

Species still to observe: southern Africa

I have compiled a rough species list for southern Africa and cross-referenced it with the species observed on iNaturalist (does not extend northwards of Namibia, Botswana, Zimababwe and Mozambique). There may be a few errors but I thought it would be interesting to see how many species we have got a research grade observation for and which species have not yet been observed.

We have observed 632 species of the 783 known species, which is just over 80 %. Here are the species that are missing:

Acontias aurantiacus
Acontias bicolor
Acontias fitzsimonsi
Acontias gariepensis
Acontias percivali
Acontias richardi
Acontias schmitzi
Acontias wakkerstroomensis
Afroedura broadleyi
Afroedura granitica
Afroedura leoloensis
Afroedura loveridgei
Afroedura major
Afroedura maripi
Afroedura rondavelica
Afroedura rupestris
Afroedura tembulica
Afroedura tirasensis
Amietia inyangae
Amietia vandijki
Amnirana galamensis
Anhydrophryne ngongoniensis
Aparallactus nigriceps
Arthroleptella rugosa
Arthroleptella subvoce
Arthroleptis troglodytes
Arthroleptis wageri
Arthroleptis xenochirus
Aspidelaps infuscatus
Atheris mabuensis
Bitis albanica
Bitis inornata
Bradypodion karrooicum
Capensibufo magistratus
Chersobius boulengeri
Chirindia swynnertoni
Chondrodactylus fitzsimonsi
Chondrodactylus laevigatus
Cordylus aridus
Cordylus cloetei
Cordylus imkeae
Cordylus machadoi
Cordylus mclachlani
Cordylus meculae
Cordylus minor
Dalophia longicauda
Dipsadoboa montisilva
Elapsoidea guentherii
Elasmodactylus tuberculosus
Goggia gemmula
Goggia matzikamaensis
Hyperolius acuticeps
Ichnotropis grandiceps
Leptopelis argenteus
Leptopelis broadleyi
Leptopelis parbocagii
Leptotyphlops distanti
Leptotyphlops sylvicolus
Leptotyphlops telloi
Lycodonomorphus mlanjensis
Lycodonomorphus obscuriventris
Lycophidion multimaculatum
Lycophidion semiannule
Lygodactylus graniticolus
Lygodactylus montiscaeruli
Lygodactylus regulus
Lygodactylus waterbergensis
Meroles micropholidotus
Mertensophryne anotis
Mertensophryne lindneri
Mertensophryne loveridgei
Monopeltis anchietae
Monopeltis decosteri
Monopeltis leonhardi
Monopeltis rhodesiana
Monopeltis sphenorhynchus
Montaspis gilvomaculata
Mopanveldophis zebrinus
Nadzikambia baylissi
Namazonurus campbelli
Namazonurus namaquensis
Namibiana labialis
Nothophryne baylissi
Nothophryne inagoensis
Nothophryne ribauensis
Nothophryne unilurio
Nucras aurantiaca
Nucras caesicaudata
Pachydactylus acuminatus
Pachydactylus boehmei
Pachydactylus caraculicus
Pachydactylus etultra
Pachydactylus gaiasensis
Pachydactylus goodi
Pachydactylus griffini
Pachydactylus kobosensis
Pachydactylus maclachlani
Pachydactylus macrolepis
Pachydactylus otaviensis
Pachydactylus parascutatus
Pachydactylus sansteynae
Pachydactylus scutatus
Pachydactylus waterbergensis
Pachydactylus werneri
Pedioplanis benguellensis
Pedioplanis haackei
Philothamnus macrops
Philothamnus ornatus
Phrynobatrachus parvulus
Phrynobatrachus perpalmatus
Phrynomantis affinis
Platysaurus chimanimaniensis
Platysaurus guttatus
Platysaurus pungweensis
Poyntonophrynus beiranus
Poyntonophrynus kavangensis
Probreviceps rhodesianus
Ptychadena mapacha
Ptychadena uzungwensis
Pyxicephalus angusticeps
Rhampholeon bruessoworum
Rhampholeon maspictus
Rhampholeon nebulauctor
Rhinotyphlops boylei
Rhoptropus biporosus
Rhoptropus diporus
Rieppeleon brachyurus
Scelotes arenicolus
Scelotes guentheri
Sepsina alberti
Smaug barbertonensis
Smaug mossambicus
Smaug regius
Strongylopus springbokensis
Strongylopus wageri
Telescopus finkeldeyi
Tetradactylus eastwoodae
Tomopterna damarensis
Trachylepis chimbana
Typhlacontias johnsonii
Typhlacontias punctatissimus
Typhlosaurus braini
Vandijkophrynus amatolicus
Vandijkophrynus inyangae
Vandijkophrynus nubicola
Xenocalamus sabiensis
Xenopus poweri
Zygaspis ferox
Zygaspis kafuensis
Zygaspis niger
Zygaspis violacea

Posted on January 14, 2021 16:04 by alexanderr alexanderr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 26, 2020

Herpetological Association of Africa (HAA) New Challenge:

A new challenge has been added to the existing challenges (Please upload your records for Jalla’s Sand Snake and for the Lesotho/southern Drakensberg)!

Challenge 3:
New records for the elusive Breyer's Long-tailed Seps (Tetradactylus breyeri

"This species has seldom been recorded. It is a South African endemic that has a patchy distribution in high elevation mountainous grassland regions. There are only 20 verified records and of these, only six have been made within the last 20 years. Could this species be in decline? It is currently listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List and the lack of recent records are not encouraging. A congener, Tetradactylus eastwoodae, is listed as Extinct, having last been recorded in the 1920s. It is possible that seps are particularly sensitive to habitat degradation and loss. Urgent confirmation of the persistence of Breyer’s Long-tailed Seps is needed, particularly from the south-central Drakensberg and the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands." AHN 75

Posted on December 26, 2020 04:56 by alexanderr alexanderr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 04, 2020

African Reptiles and Conservation

In 2016, Tolley et al. published the paper "Conservation status and threats for African reptiles", wherein they emphasized challenges such as inadequate number of records as well as uneven sampling (focused on southern and eastern Africa). At the time they reported a total of 83,724 unique records. On iNaturalist alone, since 2016, there has been an additional 41,743 reptile records submitted to Africa (excluding Madagascar). This is an incredible increase of roughly half the total number of records in 5 years! And although samplings biases continue to prevail, records in under-sampled regions are accumulating.

Hopefully as more data become available more reptiles can be formally assessed by the IUCN, as of 2015 only 50 % have been assessed. Without there assessments there is often no awareness or ammunition for the conservation of threatened species when their habitat is faced with human developments.

In South Africa all reptile species have been either regionally or globally assessed according to the IUCN's standards and these can be accessed here (Tolley et al. 2019).

Tolley, K.A., Alexander, G.J., Branch, W.R., Bowles, P. and Maritz, B., 2016. Conservation status and threats for African reptiles. Biological Conservation, 204, pp.63-71.
Tolley, K.A., Weeber, J., Maritz, B., Verburgt, L., Bates, M.F., Conradie, W., Hofmeyr, M.D., Turner, A.A., Da Silva, J.M. and Alexander, G.J., 2019. No safe haven: protection levels show imperilled South African reptiles not sufficiently safe-guarded despite low average extinction risk. Biological Conservation, 233, pp.61-72.

Posted on November 04, 2020 16:47 by alexanderr alexanderr | 1 comment | Leave a comment

October 28, 2020

New Angolan Breviceps

A new rain frog, the Angolan Rain Frog (Breviceps ombelanonga) has just been described by Nielsen et al. 2020. The species can be distinguished from other species in the area based on the following characters:

"lacking a visible tympanum, males having a single, uniformly dark gular patch that is continuous with the mask extending from the eye, having generally smooth dorsal skin, lacking many small tubercles on the palmar surfaces (as in, e.g., B. branchi and B. sylvestris; FitzSimons 1930; Channing 2012), lacking pale spots along flanks and a pale patch above the vent (both present in B. poweri; Parker 1934; du Preez and Carruthers 2017), lacking short dark band below nares (as in B. poweri; du Preez and Carruthers 2017), lacking confluent inner and outer metatarsal tubercles, having a relatively narrower head, shorter thigh, and shorter manual digit III (Fig. 2; Table 4), and having an advertisement call with both a longer interval between consecutive calls and a higher average dominant frequency (Fig. 3)."

Colour variation in Breviceps ombelanonga

Map of Breviceps distribution record in Angola.

Read the full article here:

Posted on October 28, 2020 05:42 by alexanderr alexanderr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 30, 2020

75 000 Observations!

Over the past year there has been a noticeable increase in the number of African herpetofauna records. As we pass the milestone of 75 thousand observations it is worth taking this opportunity to look back on how we have progressed.

Monthly observations of AfriHerps

As shown in the graphic, observations are currently just over 2000 per month, increasing from about 1500 in 2019. The total number of species observed is approximately 2047, and the majority of records (51 %) come from South Africa, with the Western Leopard Toad, Cape Dwarf Chameleon and Nile Crocodile being the most observed species.

Looking at uploads made during the year 2020, three users stand out in particular with regards to the number of species observed (many which represent the first observations on iNaturalist) as well as the number of observations:

@m_burger: 224 species (443 obs.)
@tyroneping: 201 species (213 obs.)
@ryanvanhuyssteen: 145 species (302 obs.)

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this achievement by adding observations and helping with identifications and may this community continue to grow.

Posted on September 30, 2020 16:23 by alexanderr alexanderr | 4 comments | Leave a comment

September 01, 2020

Herpetological Association of Africa (HAA) Challenges:

In the 74th African Herp News (AHN) of August 2020 the HAA promoted citizen science platforms such as iNaturalist, and introduced a series of challenges to encourage members to contribute their records. The most novel and exciting records from the reporting period are to be selected and featured in future AHN publications.

Please join the following projects if you would like to contribute or check out the progress of these challenges. We also encourage users to help confirm species identifications within these projects.

Challenge 1:
New records Jalla’s Sand Snake (Psammophis jallae)

Challenge 2:
Herpetofauna of the southern Drakensberg and adjacent Lesotho

Posted on September 01, 2020 05:01 by alexanderr alexanderr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 28, 2020

New Bush Viper (Atheris) from Bioko Island (Gulf of Guinea)

A new species of Atheris (A. hetfieldi ) has described from the Bioko Island by Ceríaco et al. (2020). This is the second Bush Viper known the the island and is currently the only endemic snake to the island (although this may change as more studies are done).

A specimen of A. hetfieldi was collected way back by Leonardo Fea in 1901-1902 but was not described. Another specimen of this species was collected 1998, and both were used in the current description where it is morphologically distinct from other Atheris species. The paper also updates the dichotomous key for the genus (Spawls & Branch 2020) .

Atheris hetfieldi differs from the A. squamigera (also present on the island), by the following characters:
"four suprarostrals (usually three in A. squamigera, see Fig. 4), three scales between the eye and the nasal (two in A. squamigera), and an higher number of interrictals (19–20 in Atheris hetfieldi sp. nov. versus 14 to 16 in A. squamigera); "

The snake is named in honour of James Hetfield from the heavy metal band Metallica.

Read the full article here:
Ceríaco, L.M., Marques, M.P. and Bauer, A.M., 2020. The Bush Vipers, genus Atheris Cope, 1862 (Squamata: Viperidae) of Bioko Island, Gulf of Guinea, with the description of a new species. Zootaxa 4838 (4): pp. 581-593.

Posted on August 28, 2020 12:07 by alexanderr alexanderr | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 23, 2020

New Swamp Snake named in honour of Bill Branch

A recent review of Swamp Snakes (Limnophis) from Central Africa describes a new species from the North of Angola. Limnophis branchi is named in honour of Bill Branch, who worked in Angola over the last decade. It is known to occur in seasonal wetlands and is frequently found eating the fish in the fish traps of local fisherman.

Morphology Key:
Limnophis branchi can be distinguished from L. bicolor in having dark markings on the throat and belly and nasal suture in contact with the loreal (not the 1st upper labial).
L. branchi can be distinguished from L. bangweolicus in having dark markings (appearing barred) on the belly and underside of the tail, barred upper lip, a pale dosrolateral stripe only one scale in width (as opposed to 3-4 scales) and lacking any black dorsolateral stripes.

Limnophis branchi

Read the full article here:
Conradie, W., Deepak, V., Keates, C. and Gower, D.J., 2020. Kissing cousins: a review of the African genus Limnophis Günther, 1865 (Colubridae: Natricinae), with the description of a new species from north-eastern Angola. African Journal of Herpetology, pp.1-29.

Posted on July 23, 2020 05:43 by alexanderr alexanderr | 0 comments | Leave a comment