A diminutive species, the Kivu tree frog has a brown upper body with irregular darker markings (2). Like many other tree-dwelling frogs, this species’ digits end in broad, circular adhesive pads, which aid climbing (3). The male Kivu tree frog possesses a white inflatable throat pouch, known as a gular sac, and makes a quiet call, consisting of a rapid series of three to four “clacks” (2).
Little is currently known about the Kivu tree frog’s biology. It is believed to feed upon soft-bodied insects, sitting in wait for its prey to come near, before making a rapid, open-mouthed lunge (3)(4). Like its relative, Leptopelis modestus, the male probably attracts a mate by making its call and displaying its throat (3). The Kivu tree frog’s reproduction involves the female burying the eggs in underground nests near to standing water. The onset of heavy rains triggers the eggs to hatch, and the resulting flooding washes the tadpoles into the nearby water body (1)(5).
The Kivu tree frog’s range is centred around Lake Kivu, with populations found in the highlands of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, western Rwanda, north-western Burundi, and south-western Uganda (1).
The main threat to the Kivu tree frog appears to be habitat clearance for agriculture, human settlement and wood extraction. With its relatively limited range and declining population, it is likely that, without intervention, this species may soon have its IUCN Red List status upgraded to Vulnerable (1).
While there are no specific conservation measures in place for the Kivu tree frog at present, it does occur in three protected sites: Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kibale and Bwindi National Parks in Uganda (1). Bwindi National Park has had notable success in preventing the encroachment of agriculture and illegal forest clearance that has been severely problematic for other National Parks in the area (6). This enforcement will help to provide a valuable refuge for unique species such as the Kivu tree frog.
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