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The Amathole Mountains of South Africa consist of approximately 900,000 acres of high-altitude grassland and forest areas. The area’s highland habitats are extremely rich in animal and plant species with high rates of endemism, including the Critically Endangered Amathole Toad. This species was presumed to be extinct, as it had not been seen for 13 years, until it was rediscovered in 2011 by Rainforest Trust’s local partner Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT). Since this incredible rediscovery, EWT has worked toward the implementation of conservation measures in the region. Though their efforts have made significant progress, forestry and agricultural encroachment has severely impacted the Amathole Toad’s range and that of other endemic species, as the area has no formal protection.
Rainforest Trust and EWT are currently coordinating with local landowners and the government to initiate a Biodiversity Stewardship Program that will ensure the effective protection of this area so threatened and endemic species such as the Amathole Toad are formally protected within a safe refuge. This program will provide an opportunity for local governments and nongovernmental entities to collaborate with landowners to create the Amathole Catchment Protected Environment.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
Key Species (Based on IUCN Red List)
Amathole Toad (CR), Hogsback Chirping Frog (EN), Border Barb (EN), Eastern Cape Rocky (EN), Amathole Malachite (EN), Grey-crowned Crane (EN), Blue Crane (VU)
High-altitude montane grassland and forest areas
Agricultural encroachment, invasive vegetation
Create the Amathole Catchment Protected Environment
Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
Price per Acre
The grasslands of the Amathole Mountains are home to an array of threatened and range-restricted species, such as the Critically Endangered Amathole Toad.
This toad is exceptionally rare, and was considered ‘lost’ and presumed to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 2011 by EWT. The Amathole Toad has an incredibly limited range within the Amathole Mountains, and currently its habitat has no protection. Endangered species in the area include the Hogsback Chirping Frog and Grey Crowned Crane, as well as two fish: the Border Barb and the Eastern Cape Rocky. The wide variety of threatened and endemic species located within the region reinforces the need to help safeguard this biodiverse area.
Currently, no formal protection exists for this highly at-risk habitat.
The area’s montane grasslands are particularly vulnerable to plantation development and overgrazing. For instance, pine plantation development and agricultural encroachment have already severely impacted the Amathole Toad and other key species sharing its habitat. Additionally, invasive vegetation that is favored by habitat disturbance is already present across large areas in the region.
The Amathlati Local Municipality has a population of around 122,778 people, although the proposed protected area is in a sparsely populated, largely agricultural region.
The Amathole catchment is a critical water supply area for the Eastern Cape Province, providing water to millions of people. Landowners have expressed great interest in habitat protection options through the Biodiversity Stewardship Program, working with EWT and the provincial conservation agency to formalize agreements. It is crucial that this program becomes implemented as soon as possible before further habitat is lost.
Thanks to the generous support of our Board members and other supporters who cover all of our operating expenses, Rainforest Trust is able to allocate 100% of donations to conservation action. No board member receives financial benefit and our staff salaries are modest.
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