Afrana dracomontana (Channing, 1978)
Drakensberg River Frog, Drakensberg Frog, Drakensbergse Rivierpadda (A)
Currently accepted name: Amietia delalandii (Boulenger, 1895 "1894")
Red listing status: Least Concern (2017)
A. dracomontana is endemic to the highlands of southern and eastern Lesotho at altitudes above 2000 m. It is found along permanent rivers and streams as well as in the newly constructed Katse Dam and other impoundments. The map reflects the known distribution, although the species probably occurs along all the waterways in Lesotho where habitat is suitable. Although this species has not been recorded in South Africa, it is likely to occur in suitable habitat in the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg, bordering Lesotho.
This species can be distinguished morphologically from A. fuscigula and A. angolensis only by the measurement of body ratios. Logistical problems in conducting fieldwork at night in Lesotho largely prevented the collection of data based on calls.
A. dracomontana is found in montane grassland in areas that usually experience snow in winter and where annual rainfall is >700 mm. (Walton 1984). Breeding takes place in shallow streams and along the edges of rivers with well-vegetated banks. These habitats are typically rocky with rounded basaltic stones forming the riverbed. The species uses the same habitat throughout the year, including the breeding season.
Breeding takes place in summer, October–February (Channing 1978, 1979). Males call at or near the water’s edge. Approximately 150 eggs are deposited in small groups. The tadpoles grow to a large size. In winter the smaller rivers may become iced over, and tadpoles and adults may over-winter beneath the ice or deep in permanent rivers (Channing 1979).
Food items consist mostly of Hemiptera, Coleoptera and Orthoptera. Predators are unknown, although at lower altitudes otters are important predators of river frogs (Rowe-Rowe 1977a, b).
A. dracomontana is not threatened. The high slopes and plateaux where it occurs are unlikely to be disturbed or modified in such a way as to pose a threat in the future. Although large impoundments like the Katse Dam have reduced riverside habitat locally, this represents only a small proportion of the available habitat.
Current distribution map
Undated records; pre-1996; 1996 to 2002; 2003 to present
FrogMAP. 2021. Afrana dracomontana (Channing, 1978). Animal Demography Unit. Accessed from http://frogmap.adu.org.za/?sp=880; on 2021-09-16 11:09:27.
Minter L.R., Burger M., Harrison J.A., Braack H.H., Bishop P.J. & Kloepfer D. (eds). 2004. Atlas and Red Data book of the frogs of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. SI/MAB Series no. 9. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Published by the Smithsonian Institution and the Avian Demography Unit (now Animal Demography Unit).