Our Canaries in the Coal Mine
There are over 100 species of frogs in Kenya. Some are cryptic species, meaning there are at least two that look alike and the only way to tell them apart is through genetic testing and analysis of their vocalizations (songs). Sometimes these tests show us that what we once thought was one species is actually several. In our conservation area, we have one of the many cryptic variations of common reed frogs that are found throughout Africa. Even in our reed frogs, there are a number of different color variations. And of course every species has to have a unique call so the males can attract the right kind of mate. So the vocalizations are important for species identification and we use them all the time.
We are blessed to have (at last count) 13 species in the Upendo Conservation Area. We have recorded others, but have not yet confirmed their identity. Most of of our frogs are found in the shallows of some small ponds we made, coming out during or after a heavy rain during the wet season. Others stay in the deeper water, making them harder to find. Some stick around for longer periods of time in the wet season, while others come out once a year for just a couple of days, long enough to mate and fertilize the female's eggs. Then they go back into hiding until next year, often below ground.
Frogs are important indicators of ecosystem health because they are often amongst the first animals impacted by habitat degradation and pollution. Frogs serve an important function in nature, controlling insect populations, while the frog populations are controlled by birds, mammals and reptiles.
Our goal is to complete species inventories for every type of animal in our conservation area. For frogs, we conduct visual encounter surveys and audio surveys to detect frogs. We try to get photographs and good audio recordings, which are analyzed by one of our partners and compared to the known calls of frogs from our area. However, there are a few frogs in western Kenya that have not had their calls recorded and published, so for those we will need to have visual confirmation of the frogs when calling. We primarily use The Amphibians of Kenya for frog identification.
Meet Our Frogs
Groove-crowned bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus occipitalis)
Broad-banded rocket frog (Ptychdena mossambica)
Dwarf rocket frog (Ptychadena taenioscelis)
Plain rocket frog (Ptychadena anchietae)
Senegal running frog (Kassina senegalensis)
Four-lined spiny reed frog (Afrixalus fulvovittatus)
Common reed frog (Hyperolius viridiflavus)
Kivu reed frog (Hyperolius kivuensis)
Flat-backed toad (Sclerophrys pusilla)
Guttural toad (Sclerophrys gutturalis)
Marbled snout burrower (Hemisus marmoratus)
Natal dwarf puddle frog (Phrynobatrachus natalensis)
Clawed frog (Xenopus sp.
(We have no recorded sound)