|Mitchell's reed frog (© Jonathan R. Walz 2002)|
|Banded rubber frog in one of my notebooks|
Things began to look up at the turn of the millennium, when I was based in Iringa and became aware of the work of Alan Channing (Professor of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology in the University of the Western Cape) and colleagues. Indeed my sole (and admittedly feeble) claim to frog fame is to have been consulted over the specific name of the newly discovered Red sand frog, Tomopterna luganga, first collected by another of my friends, David Moyer, from Kigwembimbi, 14 km east of Iringa town (Channing et al. 2004). This is in the heart of Uhehe, and the name that I was asked to check, luganga, is one of the Hehe words for 'sand'. I bought a copy of Alan Channing's Amphibians of Central and Southern Africa (2001), and at last had a field guide that provided better guidance than Hedges' slim section on frogs. Channing and Howell's Amphibians of East Africa (2006) came out after I'd left East Africa, and I still haven't got my hands on it, though I do have the boiled-down version that was published in the same year in the Pocket Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of East Africa (Spawls et al. 2006).
Arthur Loveridge. While many dictionaries and vocabularies only give a single word for frogs, it is evident that finer discriminations are made in a number of East African languages. Ethnotaxonomies of frogs have been even less studied than the frogs themselves, and it is not impossible that complex systems of knowledge like those of the Kalam (Karam) of highland Papua New Guinea (Bulmer and Tyler 1968) are waiting to be described. At least we now have better guides to work with, together with an increasing number of images online, and if I ever identify that tiny yellow frog, or figure out those Pemban classifications, I'll write another frog blog.
As should be clear, I couldn't have written this post without the friendship of Jonathan Walz, Kim Howell and David Moyer. I'm especially grateful to Jonathan, who generously provided a copy of his photograph of Mitchell's reed frog and gave me permission to edit and reproduce it.
Bulmer, R. N. H. and M. J. Tyler 1968. Karam classification of frogs. Journal of the Polynesian Society 77 (4): 333-385.
Channing, Alan 2001. Amphibians of Central and Southern Africa. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University.
Channing, Alan and Kim M. Howell 2006. Amphibians of East Africa. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Channing, Alan, David C. Moyer and Abeda Dawood 2004. A new sand frog from central Tanzania (Anura: Ranidae: Tomopterna). African Journal of Herpetology 53 (1): 21-28.
Hedges, Norman G. 1983. Reptiles and Amphibians of East Africa. Nairobi: Kenya Literature Bureau.
Pakenham, R. H. W. 1983. The reptiles and amphibians of Zanzibar and Pemba islands (with a note on the freshwater fishes). Journal of the East Africa Natural History Society and National Museum 177: 1-40.
Spawls, Stephen, Kim M. Howell and Robert C. Drewes 2006. Pocket Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of East Africa. London: A&C Black.