African giant toad (Amietophrynus superciliaris)

Also known as: Cameroon toad, Congo toad
Synonyms: Bufo superciliaris
GenusAmietophrynus (1)

The African giant toad is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (2).

The African giant toad (Amietophrynus superciliaris) is a large, forest-dwelling species, with attractive colouration that provides perfect camouflage amongst the leaf litter. The yellowish upperparts resemble a fallen leaf, and are even marked with blotches and frayed edges to simulate decomposition. By contrast, the underparts are dark purple-red giving the appearance of the shadow cast by the leaf (3) (4).

Predominantly a Central African species, the African giant toad can be found from extreme south-eastern Nigeria eastwards through southern Cameroon and south-western Central African Republic to north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. It is also found in Equatorial Guinea, northern Congo and central Gabon. Isolated records indicate that this species occurs in West Africa in southern Ghana, south-western Côte d’Ivoire, and southern Guinea, and is likely to be found in Liberia and Sierra Leone. This disjointed range may, in part, be due to current confusion regarding this species taxonomic status. It is thought that there could actually be three separate species of the African giant toad, which have been grouped within this single species due to their similar appearance (1)

Generally found at low altitudes, in Central Africa the African giant toad is mainly found in secondary forest, but also occurs in tall, primary forest, dense brush and cocoa plantations. In West Africa it is only found on the banks of larger rivers, within areas of primary forest (1)

Little is currently known about the biology of the African giant toad. Breeding takes place in streams in areas of relatively calm water (1). After mating, in common with closely related species of the genus Bufo, the female probably deposits long strings of eggs, wrapped around underwater vegetation. Prey is likely to consist of invertebrates caught by the toad amongst the leaf-litter or in the water (5).

Previously, one of the main threats to the African giant toad was overexploitation for the pet trade. Although all international trade is now prohibited, its population may have suffered an overall decline and, in addition, some low-level illegal trade may still be occurring (1).

Currently, the main threat to the African giant toad is habitat loss, as a result of the high levels of deforestation that are occurring throughout its range. Nevertheless, this species is believed to have a large population, which is not currently declining fast enough to warrant a more threatened classification (1).

In order to protect the African giant toad from being overharvested for the pet trade it was listed under Appendix I of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1975, making all international trade in this species illegal (2). In addition, the African giant toad is found in a number of protected areas throughout its range, which will hopefully continue to provide a refuge for this beautiful species for many years to come (1).

To learn more about the worldwide decline of amphibians, visit: 

Authenticated (04/02/2009) by Dr Phil Bishop, Department of Zoology, University of Otago.

  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2008)
  2. CITES (June, 2008)
  3. University of Otago (January, 2009)
  4. World Association of Zoos and Aquariums - African giant toad (January, 2009)
  5. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptile and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.