Distribution, abundance and conservation status of the Fijian ground frog (Platymantis vitianus)

Joape Kuruyawa

This project, focusing on the promotion of the ground frog (Platymantis vitianus) as a national heritage icon, will be the first stage in what is envisaged is a long-term conservation goal in Fiji. The ground frog is listed as an endangered species in the IUCN Red Data Booklet as it has been extirpated from much of its original habitat and is now only known to exist on four mongoose-free islands. We believe the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes javanicus), three species of rat (Rattus rattus, R. norvegicus and R. exulans), and the cane toad (Bufo marinus) pose the biggest threats to preserving the ground frog. By raising the awareness of the local people on the conservation status of the ground frog, we aim to prevent the possibility of mongoose arriving on the islands. Perceiving the ground frog as a national heritage icon will empower the people to take a greater responsibility in saving this species. An awareness campaign will be carried out in the villages and the schools and a set of posters will be produced and distributed to highlight the plight of the ground frog and encourage its protection. The present distribution and relative abundance within the four islands is currently unknown. Therefore, baseline survey data will determine the distribution of the ground frog and provide an estimate of its abundance so future surveys can determine if the populations are stable, increasing or declining in both area and numbers.