Algeria’s Endangered Amphibians

Found only in the Edough massif in northeast Algeria, the Edough ribbed newt (Pleurodeles poireti) is a species of salamander classified in the Salamandridae family considered by the IUCN to be ‘endangered’. These interesting amphibians live primarily in rivers, swamps, freshwater marshes, ponds and cisterns, and their continued existence is chiefly threatened by the ongoing loss of habitat they are dependent upon. It was initially thought that the P.poireti newt was the same as the Algerian ribbed newt (Pleurodeles nebulosus) which has a wider distribution in both Algeria and Tunisia, but in 2004 molecular genetic analysis by Carranza and Wade confirmed that they were, in fact, two separate species, with P.poireti being endemic to the Edough massif, and therefore, found nowhere else.

Listed as ‘near threatened’ on the IUCN Red List, the Brongersma’s Toad is found in Algeria, Morocco and Western Sahara in shrubby vegetation where there are intermittent rivers and freshwater marshes, ponds, canals and ditches. As with other endangered, vulnerable and threatened species, the continued existence of the Brongersma’s Toad (Bufo brongersmai) is dependent on suitable habitat, which is continually disappearing due primarily to climate change and the encroachment of human populations.

Known alternatively as the Algerian fire salamander and North African fire salamander, Salamandra algira is found in Algeria, Morocco and Spain, with its natural habitats being temperate forests, caves and rivers. It is also threatened by habitat loss and is listed with the IUCN (International Union for conservation of Nature) as ‘vulnerable’. This brightly colored amphibian has a slender smooth-skinned body with a long tail, rounded at the tip. Its narrow, slightly flattened head features a rounded snout with prominent black eyes. Their primary skin color is glossy dark brown or black with yellow patches on its upper parts. Juveniles have white spots on their upper parts, which change to yellow, or even reddish, as they mature. Three subspecies of Salamandra algira have been recorded, being Salamandra algira algira, Salamandra Algira spelaea and Salamandra algira tingitana. As these three differ in many ways, further studies may determine that they are distinct species, but for now they are listed as subspecies of the Salamandra algira – the North African fire salamander.