IUCN threat status:

Data Deficient (DD)

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The only known specimen of Kemp’s bush frog (Philautus kempii) was collected by Indian Museum Superintendent Stanly Kemp, during a four-month expedition to the Abor of Northeast India in 1911-12.  Belgian/British naturalist and director of the Indian Museum Nelson Annandale described Kemp’s specimen as Megalophrys kempii with type locality of Upper Rotung valley, at 2000 ft in altitude (Arunachal Pradesh, northeastern India).  The frog is also known as Kemp’s small treefrog, Kemp’s spadefoot frog, and Kemp’s horned toad (Frost 2014; Annandale 2012).

Annandale described this terrestrial tree frog specimen as small (though he noted that it was full-grown), smooth-skinned and dark olive in color with grey-green markings on the dorsal side, olive green banding on the legs, tubercules on the base of the thighs, and an olive-yellow ventral and throat color with clear yellow spots on the throat.  The specimen’s snout-vent length measured 15mm (0.6 inches).  Annandale also reported no vomerine teeth, slender limbs, and small but distinct pads on fingers and toes, with toes (not fingers) slightly webbed (Annandale 2012)

After reviewing the type specimen (held in the Indian Museum as ZSIC 17013), Delorme et al. (2006) argue that while smooth skin is a character of the family Megalophoridae, the granular ventral skin of this specimen is “treefrog belly skin.” Furthermore, the discrete finger and toe pads of this species clearly indicate that it does not belong in this family.  Instead, Delorme et al. recognize Kemp’s bush frog as a species in genus Philautus, in subfamily Rhacophorinae. 

As this species is known only from one specimen there is some question as to its taxonomic validity and its range and population size is unknown (Dutta et al. 2008).  Fei (1999) reports a second specimen from 2,500m in altitude in Motuo County, South-eastern Xizang Autonomous Region, China, but this has not been fully confirmed as the same species (see Frost 2014). 


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© Dana Campbell

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