The Night Spirit Frog (Leptopelis spiritusnoctis) is considered Ghana’s most beloved frog. For many artists and frog lovers in Ghana and around the globe, it is the poster child for the beauty of nature, thanks first and foremost to its distinctively large silver-grey eyes, just one feature that makes it particularly adorable.
The species name spiritusnoctis comes from two Latin words: spiritus, meaning soul or spirit and noctis, meaning night. Like the name suggests, it is mostly active at night, producing a whispering, buzzing sound as though wooing you.
The Night Spirit Frog is associated with primary and secondary equatorial evergreen forest and semi-deciduous forest types. Outside of Ghana’s forest belt, it occurs throughout forested parts of West Africa as far as the Niger Delta in Nigeria. In September 2016, for the first time, SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana recorded it along the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Wewe River in Kumasi, Ghana. The Wewe River is the site of an ongoing restoration project by the SAVE THE FROGS! KNUST Chapter.
Its color varies but most adult Night Spirit Frogs are light brown to dark chocolate brown, while tadpoles are nearly black. Its coolness may also be ascribed to the body size: in relation to other forest tree frogs (Leptopelis) found in Africa, it is small, about thumb length. Its small size and beauty earned it the nickname “lady” by many local frog lovers.
The Night Spirit Frog prefers moist places and along streams and river banks, breeding in small puddles and temporary ponds.
Unfortunately, like most amphibians, this beautiful frog is severely threatened by habitat loss. About 90% of its KNUST Wewe River habitat has already disappeared along with probably hundreds, or even thousands, of the Night Spirit Frogs. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Night Spirit Frog is also exploited for the local and international pet trade. Of the few known populations that exist, it is urgent that these claims be substantiated by rigorous trade monitoring to secure the future of the Night Spirit Frog.
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Sandra Owusu-Gyamfi is the SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Campaigns Coordinator.