Photo courtesy of Euan Brook
Species: Hochstetter’s Frog / pepeketua
Location: Distributed in at least 10 fragmented and isolated populations in the northern half of the North Island
Status: Vulnerable (at risk – declining)
Threats: They are currently under threat because of loss of habitat, introduced predators and a fungal infection attacking all four remaining native frog species.
The Hochstetter’s Frog
In New Zealand, we currently have four species of native frogs and three species of introduced frogs. All New Zealand’s unique native species (genus Leiopelma) as well as two of the introduced species (the Bell frogs Litoria aurea and Litoria raniformis) have been listed as threatened or endangered. New Zealand’s native frogs are an ancient group of frogs that have changed very little in the last 70 million years.
The Hochstetter’s frog has a brown-green to brown-red top with dark bands and warts and yellow-brown bellies. Males grow to 38 mm (1.5 in) and females 50 mm (2.0 in). It can take 3-4 years for the Hochstetter’s froglets to develop to full adult and they can live up to 30 years.
This species used to be widespread but is now distributed in only 10 known fragmented and isolated populations in the northern half of the North Island – Waitakere and Hunua Ranges, Dome Valley, the Coromandel Peninsula, Great Barrier Island, Maungatautari Ecological Island, and the East Cape. The total population size across New Zealand is estimated to be c. 100,000 individuals.
Hochstetter’s Frog Recovery at the Waitākere Ranges
As part of our Wild Futures programme, Conservation Volunteers New Zealand will be working in partnership with Auckland Council and Mondelēz International to help create a Wild Future for the Hochstetter’s Frog. We will help the recovery of the Hochstetter’s Frog by:
- Increasing predator control at key sites
- Monitoring and population studies
- Habitat restoration
This programme will begin with the protection of a colony of frogs in the Waitākere Ranges. It is roughly estimated that 1,000 Hochstetter’s frogs live in the Waitākeres and it is hoped that this number will grow.
Working with Auckland Council staff at the Waitākere Ranges, CVNZ has built a recovery program for the Hochstetter’s frog. Our focus is to restore and protect their native habitats, reduce the impact of introduced predators and raise awareness within the local community.
The Hochstetter’s Frog in the Huia catchment used to be the stronghold population in the Waitākere Ranges. In recent years though it has been the colony with the greatest decline in numbers. Now plans and activities are under way to establish a predator control programme across a 300-hectare area in the Upper Huia Dam Catchment which will include a grid of traps and bait stations installed within the riparian margin on each side of the streams. This will include a total of 900 bait stations and 45 traps across the 300-ha area, which will target both rats and mustelids (stoats, weasels and ferrets).
This area is adjacent to the Ark in the Park (a community restoration programme in the Waitākere Ranges) so this is great news for the biodiversity of the Ranges.
Help save the Hochstetter’s Frog
You can be a part of this important recovery work to help the Hochstetter’s Frog by donating to our Wild Futures programme.
Donate directly through DonorBox:
We have developed an educational resource for kids to help them learn about our native frogs. You can download that for free here: https://form.jotform.com/200709263923959 Please contact [email protected] if you have any trouble downloading this file.