Innovative Technology and Data Management Practices for Conservation
Jeanne Tarrant – Endangered Wildlife Trust
Lizanne Roxburgh – Endangered Wildlife Trust
Alison Faraday – Endangered Wildlife Trust
Cherise Acker-Cooper – Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tackling the global amphibian extinction crisis requires that the amphibian conservation community makes use of all the tools available to us. With 40% of all amphibians now classified as threatened, and with limited resources to address the issues causing these declines, a cooperative, interdisciplinary approach is needed that enables the exchange of information across both academic and professional disciplines, as well as between diverse stakeholders and partners. This includes harnessing active participation in amphibian and habitat conservation through citizen science. One of the priorities under the global ‘Amphibian Conservation Action Plan’ is to coordinate efforts to synthesise and communicate findings from citizen science data back to the amphibian community. On the other hand, professional scientists need to facilitate citizen science data collection to strategically link it to desired conservation outcomes. The Endangered Wildlife Trust, has several amphibian-related projects that involve inputs from citizen science. These include monitoring and surveillance of the endangered Kloof frog, Natalobatrachus bonebergi, for which protocols have been refined, and new sites identified and added. A data set over six years for one site, Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve, provides valuable trend information for breeding activity. We are also collecting data for N. bonebergi and general frog occurrence records from Adams Mission, KwaZulu-Natal, where we are working towards formal habitat protection of 500 hectares of coastal wetland and swamp forest for this species, and its conjoiner, the endangered Pickersgill’s reed frog, Hyperolius pickersgilli. Towards this end, we are also using citizen science to collect extensive data on ecological goods and services (EGS) to gauge long-term responses to habitat management and protection interventions. Twelve years of volunteer-based patrolling data collection of endangered western leopard toad, Scleophrys pantherina, across the Cape south peninsula has contributed to the knowledge of breeding patterns and helped inform conservation interventions.