'Celebrity' frog misidentified - expert

Desert Rain frog, Breviceps macrops. (Alan Channing)
Desert Rain frog, Breviceps macrops. (Alan Channing)
Cape Town – A globular pokemon-like frog which has caused an internet sensation with its roaring calls has been misidentified according to local herpetologist, Professor Alan Channing.

“The frog in the video is not Breviceps namaquensis, it is Breviceps macrops, the desert rain frog,” he told News24.

Channing, an author of three books on African frogs, also highlighted the fact that the frog was making a distress call.

“What this means is that somebody was prodding it and annoying it while the close-up video was taken,” he said.

Wildlife enthusiast and photographer, Dean Boshoff, uploaded the video on 13 February with the caption “I recorded a short clip of the defensive cry of the Namaqua rainfrog found in the sandy dunes along Port Nolloth in the Northern Cape province”.

The close-up video shows the globular frog yelping loudly several times while moving backward.

The video has gone viral and has been viewed almost 900 000 times. It has captured the attention of international news platforms like the UK’s Daily Mail and the Huffington Post.

Frog call

Every frog species’ call is unique and Channing explained that the physiological mechanism for calling is the same in all frogs. “The frog pushes air from the lungs over the vocal chords,” he said.

The frog’s animated body plan is well adapted for burrowing in its dune habitat.

“They've got flanges on their back feet which act like little spades, so they can dig in backward into the sand. They also have a belly patch which is an area with lots of blood vessels and capillaries through which they can take up water through the soil," Channing said in an earlier report.

The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) has listed the Desert Rain frog as vulnerable. This means that it is faced with a high risk of endangerment in the wild.

In 2012, News24 reported on a luxury housing development in Port Nolloth which directly threatened the survival of the Desert Rain frog.

Kai Kai coastal estate initiated the beach front development which has encroached on the frog’s dune habitat.

Worldwide, the Rain frog is one of the only frogs that have the ability to live within 10m of the beachfront.

Boshoff was not available for comment.

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