PROGRAMS & PROJECTS.
Saving Ghana's Frogs
Frog populations have been declining worldwide at unprecedented rates. Nearly one-third of the world’s amphibian species are threatened with extinction and up to 200 species have completely disappeared since 1980. Amphibian populations are faced with an array of environmental problems, including pollution, infectious diseases, habitat loss, invasive species, climate change, and over-harvesting for the pet and food trades. In Ghana alone, over 80% of Ghana's original rainforests have been cleared, resulting in a third of the country's amphibians now under threat. Frogs are vitally important to ecosystems as they eat mosquitoes and their tadpoles filter our drinking water.
Save Ghana Frogs works on a variety of efforts, including growing the number of Ghanaian amphibian biologists; creating a new national park in the biodiverse Atewa Hills, which is currently under threat from diamond, gold and bauxite mining; instituting programs to replace the frog meat trade and illegal logging with sustainable, environmentally-friendly sources of income; and producing up-to-date field guides and other educational materials that will go to every high school in the country. Save Ghana Frogs has also been working tirelessly since 2011 to protect the critically endangered Giant Squeaker Frog (Arthroleptis krokosua).
Giant Squeaker Frog
The critically endangered Giant Squeaker Frog (Arthroleptis krokosua) is one of the world’s rarest frogs. Since its discovery in 2002, it has been found less than 10 times, nearly all in western Ghana’s Sui River Forest Reserve. In fact, to date, less than 50 individual frogs have ever been recorded. Unfortunately, because Sui River Forest Reserve is a production forest thus, permitting logging activities, it has opened up the species last home to other severe human induced threats including farming and small-scale mining activities. These activities have further led to the unintended threats like invasion by the Devil Weed (Chromolaena odorata) and recurrent wildfires. Our only hope to saving the species from imminent extinction is to secure and legally protect its Sui Forest habitat.
Save Ghana Frogs since 2013 has initiated pragmatic conservation actions alongside an extensive species monitoring programme. Together with local communities, we have cleared invasive weeds and planted +30,000 trees of the native species, Terminalia ivorensis, Triplochiton scleroxylon, Terminalia superba and Ceiba pentandra within an estimated 15 ha, linking the species’ breeding sites, migration corridors and riparian areas. We have also established two community tree nurseries that ensure the constant supply of seedlings to reclaim more degraded and isolated areas. Fringe communities are constantly educated on the importance of the species and wildlife in general to increase local appreciation and participation in our conservation activities. At least, 30 local people have been resourced with beekeeping equipment and trained in apiculture as a measure to reduce over dependence on the forest.
Although our interventions have increased detection of the Giant Squeaker Frog, at least once every two years, their low numbers and lack of data on their biology and ecological requirements demands continuous interventions for their survival. Our short-term plans are to expand ongoing conservation actions. Our medium to long-term plans include getting Sui River Forest Reserve designated as a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area, equivalent to IUCN’s category IV to offer it higher protection. Additionally, a Giant Squeaker Frog Action Plan will be developed to prioritise measures to restore populations especially in its other locations.
Togo Slippery Frog
The critically endangered Togo slippery frog (Conraua derooi) is an evolutionarily distinct amphibian that is a close relative of the world’s largest frog, the Goliath frog (Conraua goliath). The species is wholly forest and stream-dependent, living in fast-flowing water, where all of its life activities (mating, breeding, development) take place. Currently, Atewa Range Forest Reserve is home to the species’ last viable population. Unfortunately, this population is threatened by planned mountain-top removal for bauxite mining which will totally destroy the species and its habitat.
Our campaign strategy has been to engage the government to upgrade Atewa Forest to a national park status and offer it the nation’s highest protection. We have also petitioned Ghana’s Parliament to intervene in our cause. Recently, we joined 20 other civil society organisations to file a notice with Ghana’s Attorney General in an attempt to legally block government’s intended bauxite mining operations. Alongside, we have been rallying local communities to demand government to recognise that the forest, originally set aside by their King, Nana Sir Ofori Atta I in the early 20th century, is both their right to natural resources and also their heritage. Our established university chapter, UCAES, also plays crucial roles on the ground, helping us to organise press conferences, street protests and public awareness creation.
Intermediate Puddle Frog
The critically endangered intermediate puddle frog (Phrynobatrachus intermedius) is only known to occur in western Ghana’s Ankasa Conservation Area. First discovered in 2001, there has not been any further sightings despite several focused surveys in other localities including Tanoé-Ehy Swamp Forest, Banco National Park and Taï National Park in neighbouring Cote d’lvoire. Not surprisingly, nothing is known yet about its population status, distribution, natural history and tolerance to threats.
Unfortunately, local people’s heavy dependence on Non-Timber Forest Products including raffia palm tapped for a local ‘wine’ endangers the species, putting it in eminent danger of disappearing.
Save Ghana Frogs a is collaborating with Ghana’s Forestry Commission to conduct continuous searches in an attempt to rediscover and bridge the knowledge gap on the species’ biology and ecology. Alongside, the team will train local park rangers to incorporate surveys in their routine wildlife monitoring activities to increase chances of rediscovery. Additionally, we are assisting local palm wine tappers to plant 20,000 seedlings of raffia palm trees in suitable areas on their farms to reduce pressures on wild palms within the species’ habitat; and educate an estimated 10,000 local people including school children from surrounding communities on the need to protect P. intermedius.
Save Ghana Frogs is a public charity whose activities are funded primarily from grants and donations from nature lovers like you. Your donations will help us sustain our campaigns.
Research is one of SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana’s main pillars. We conduct research on amphibians including presence and trends in populations as well as their associated habitats. We also collaborate with institutions such as the Forestry Commission of Ghana to update the inventory of amphibians and other taxa occurring in Ghana. We currently are a repository of amphibian data in West Africa; we hold the largest data on the critically endangered Giant Squeaker Frog (Arthroleptis krokosua), and Ghana’s only record on Allen’s Slippery Frog (Conraua alleni). These data essentially inform the scientific community such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to update and appropriately categorise the conservation status of amphibians of Africa.
It is through research that we also provide the basis for local conservation interventions. Lately we have ventured into the inventory of non-amphibian taxa such as butterflies, mammals, reptiles and birds.
We aim to restore critical amphibian habitats degraded as a result of invasive weeds and farming, logging, and mining activities. To date, we have restored an approximate area of 100 ha with +50,000 seedlings of native plants species including Emeri (Terminalia ivorensis), Wawa (Triplochiton scleroxylon), and Ofram (Terminalia superba). Habitats that have already benefitted include the Sui River Forest Reserve and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Wewe River. Our most recent inclusion to our habitat restoration programmes is the Ankasa Conservation Area.
We employ community-centred approach to address the human threats to local amphibians by working in consultation with fringe communities to provide alternative livelihoods to replace activities that reduce the quality of amphibian habitats. We provide free materials and trainings to local communities after identifying the most feasible economic activity that is ecologically-friendly and can support the financial needs of beneficiaries. Our model sites are communities within 300 m radius of the critical habitats of the Giant Squeaker Frog where currently, 300 local people are actively engaged in beekeeping; six permanent workers in our habitat restoration activities (nursery and restored areas management); and hundreds of temporary staff involved annually in amphibian monitoring and seedlings planting.
Advocacy and Policy
Our Advocacy and Policy Department is at the heart of using data to influence the national agenda on amphibian and nature conservation in general. Our work includes advocating for the stricter protection of critical amphibian habitats such as Atewa Range and Sui River Forest Reserves where we are seeking to get the former upgraded to a national park status and the latter, to a Globally Significant Biodiverse Area. We are also a member of the Ghana Biodiversity Watch which is currently making inputs to Ghana’s Convention of Biodiversity Post2020 Framework.
Awareness and Campaigns
We educate the public, via traditional and social media, about amphibians to raise awareness about their plight and to garner support for their conservation. We also run campaigns together with our supporters from all ages and walks of life mostly targeted at government to prioritise and place amphibian conservation on the public agenda. We have reached an average of +3 million Ghanaians and global audience to date and still counting.
Capacity Building and Education
We organise outreaches to schools, host field trips to our project sites, and provide technical assistance to students researching on amphibians and other wildlife. We also sponsor the formal education of students within our project sites to reduce the high incidence of student drop-outs which is linked to increases in illegal activities in critical amphibian habitats. To date, we have trained +2,000 pupils in amphibian conservation and research, financially supported the education of nearly 500 students from basic schools to the tertiary level, and established a community library, Sui Amphibian Conservation Education Centre which promotes academic excellence.
Although nearly all our funds are received mostly from international donors, we occasionally collaborate with both public and private institutions to conduct biodiversity assessments, Strategic Impact Assessments, Ecological Impact Assessments and many others. Consultancy fees help with overhead costs which usually are not covered by the grants we receive. They also help us sustain charitable projects such as the running of our community library; young scholars program which gives full and partial scholarships to kids from deprived areas; employ community forest stewards, among others. Our clients include Forestry Commission of Ghana, AngloGold Ashanti, Newmont Ghana Limited, Logs and Lumber Limited, African Plantation for Sustainable Development.