It's tiny, critically endangered and endemic to only a few fragmented sites on South Africa's eastern coast, so it's little wonder that the Pickersgill's reed frog is only just clinging to survival. But there's good news on the horizon for this highly threatened amphibian: local conservationists are pushing hard to conclude a deal that will secure a small pocket of private land as protected habitat for the species.

It might not seem like much, but the land could be a lifeline for the tiny frog, a species that's rapidly running out of viable habitat. At the moment, there are only an estimated 19 sites where the frogs still exist, and of those, just two fall inside protected areas or national parks.

The other 17 sites are hemmed in on all sides by mining areas, housing developments and agricultural land – and they're far too small (each no more than a square mile in size) and degraded to be able to sustain frog populations in the long run.

Pickersgills Reed Frog 2
The critically endangered Pickersgill's reed frog grows no bigger than around 29mm - about the size of a bottle cap.

The new land is currently in private hands but the deal would see it acquired by the local government of KwaZulu-Natal, the South African province where the Pickersgill's species is endemic. The site was highlighted as important habitat by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), a South African environmental organisation for the conservation of threatened species and ecosystems across southern Africa. If the deal is successful, the land will be safeguarded from any future development. The EWT is also working to protect existing sites where the frogs still survive.

Known scientifically as Hyperolius pickersgilli, the Pickersgill's reed frog is relatively new to science (it was discovered only in 1978) and more research is still needed to improve our understanding of the species and the best ways to conserve it. 

Aside from ongoing work to preserve its natural habitat, the species has also been at the centre of a pilot captive-breeding project, the first of its kind for the conservation of a threatened amphibian species in southern Africa.

For more info about the work being done to help save the rare frog, watch the Earth Touch Insider: