With a greenish-yellow back contrasting with dark blue hind legs and black sides, the blue-legged mantella is a popular frog in the pet trade. Males are a little smaller than females and have an obvious horseshoe-shaped blue spot on the lower throat. Both sexes have a light stripe along the upper lip. Colours can vary between individuals, but the more highly contrasting individuals are most likely to be collected for the pet trade (1).
Active during the first hours after dawn, the blue-legged mantella is most easily observed from October to December during the rainfalls that stimulate egg-laying. Males call continuously to attract females, who then emerge from their refuges to lay two to six clutches of over 35 eggs each (2)(3).
Several thousand blue-legged mantellas are thought to be collected every year from some regions in the Isalo Massif(3). Aside from over-collection, the extremely small range of these critically endangered frogs is threatened with habitat loss as a result of grazing, fires and sapphire mining operations (1).
Listing on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species provides the blue-legged mantella with some protection. It requires that an export licence is obtained for any trade in this species. A trade quota to prevent over-exploitation of this frog is crucial to its survival, as even the protection offered by the Isalo National Park has not prevented the capture of the blue-legged mantella (1). Anyhow, recent research showed that the species is still locally abundant (5).
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