Assessment of factors hindering management of the Kihansi spray toad population in the wild

The project’s main objective is to ensure that the Kihansi Spray Toad (KST) population is re-established in its natural habitat and that the captive population is maintained at a minimum cost. During the reporting period, the project examined if the spray toad’s failure to survive in the wild was caused by its inability to locate appropriate food. Preliminary results showed that toads that were fed had longer survivorship than the non-fed toads indicating that food is important in prolonging the KST survivorship. Thirty-one babies were born during the experiment. Two of these babies, now at adulthood (1 year) survive with a baby of two months and a half. A survey on chytrid fungus was carried out at the three spray wetlands in the gorge, the habitat for the spray toads. Forty-three tissue samples from 7 species of amphibians including 2 spray toads were collected by swabbing the animals, and were analysed at the Sokoine University of Agriculture. Other samples were taken to the San Diego Zoo Amphibian diseases lab in the USA for analysis. The results from SUA reported the presence of chytrid fungus in two wetlands. However, confirmation of these results awaits comparable results from the US’s lab. A Survey on vegetation and species composition revealed encroachment to inner areas of the spray wetland by an edge plant species (false ginger) that is not common in the wetland. This indicates that the sprinkler water is insufficient to keep the plants away. Similarly, four other plant species not ever before recorded inside the spray wetland were reported, posing a question as to what will be implications to the spray toad habitat. Intervention to stop the encroachment and new species to the wetland is necessary. This can be stopped by ensuring sufficient water sprays in the wetland. TAWIRI and TANESCO need to discuss this matter, as TANESCO takes care of the sprinkler systems in the wetland. The genetic study will be carried out at a later date.

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