Return to Gallery of Private Collections
Acrylic diptych on illustration board 20" x 15", 20" x 15"
The ghost frogs of the family Heleophrynidae constitute a relict group, related to the Leptodactylid frogs of South America, and consisting of five species peculiar to Southern Africa. The Table Mountain ghost frog (Heleophryne rosei) is one of the most critically endangered amphibians in the world. Its tiny range on Table Mountain, near Capetown, South Africa, of roughly three square miles has been seriously degraded by the planting of exotic poplar trees and the construction of a weir in the Cecilia ravine. The extremely slow-growing tadpoles require well over a year to develop, so the species is dependent on perenial water for its continued survival. The details of oviposition and early development are still poorly understood. The tadpoles are equipped with powerful sucker mouths with which they attach themselves to rocks. In this position they are able to progress through the rushing streams in which they live, scraping nutritious algae as they move. They are even able to climb up the faces of waterfalls. The adults are equipped with large toe pads which augment their ability to move about the cataracts.