Skip to content

Hewitt’s Ghost Frog

Heleophryne hewitti


Hewitt’s ghost frog is an attractively patterned frog that lives in fast flowing mountain streams and rivers. The tadpoles of this species develop very slowly, taking up to two years to complete their metamorphosis into the adult form.

Hewitt’s ghost frog is part of a small family of frogs, Heleophrynidae, which diverged from all other amphibians almost 160 million years ago during the Jurassic period. In evolutionary terms, these frogs have been on their own branch of the tree of life since before the origin of all modern birds!

Hewitt’s ghost frog lives in fynbos heathland and grassy fynbos. However, only tiny remnants of fynbos survive within the range of the frog, thus there is very little non-breeding habitat remaining for the species. Consequently, this species is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List.

The main threats to Hewitt’s ghost frog are the loss of suitable habitat due to exotic pine plantations, fires, erosion, stream siltation, dams and road building around their habitat. There are no current species specific conservation measures for this species and more research is required to understand the current population status of this species.

  • Order: Anura
  • Family: Heleophrynidae
  • Population: Unknown
  • Trend: unknown
  • Size: 47-50mm

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.77 (?)
ED Score: 39.15 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


This species is found in the headwaters of the Elandsberg mountains and the Cockscomb mountains in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.

Habitat and Ecology

This species lives in fast flowing rivers with rocky beds. Tadpoles attach to rocks using their sucker-like mouth parts to avoid getting washed away. The diet of adults consists of a range of insects, arthropods, snails and smaller species of frog.

Find out more

This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Wood plantations Roads/Rail Fire Dams Invasive species Agriculture

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
Available at:

Werner Conradie

  • Project name: Assessment and mitigation of threats to the critically endangered ghost frogs of South Africa
  • Project site: Elandsberg range, Eastern Cape, South Africa
  • Active: 2009 - 2011
Find out more