BOOK: Eagerly awaited Kenya amphibians guide book is here

Saturday October 5 2019

Amphibians of Kenya

'The Amphibians of Kenya' by Stephen Spawls, Dominick Wasonga and Robert C Drewes. PHOTO | COURTESY 

More by this Author

The long-awaited illustrated Amphibians of Kenya by Stephen Spawls, Dominick Wasonga and Robert C Drewes, is out.

The three researchers who have dedicated their lives to all things amphibian by publishing books and papers on the subject, have given us a guide to the original book, Amphibians of East Africa by Alan Channing and Kim Howell published in 2006.

The latter costs Ksh8,000 ($80) and hard to find. It also has limitations in that it has only one picture per species, and maps that are not precise about the location of species.

Amphibians of Kenya includes new species found since 2006 according to Wasonga.

“You can also download it on your phone unlike the Amphibians of East Africa book which is not available online,” adds Spawls saying the best part is the maps that tell you where the animals live, and any naturalist or conservationist can thus work out what amphibians are in specific areas.

“And if you find a species outside of its known habitat, the maps tell you it is an important record and should be reported to the herpetology section at the National Museum of Kenya,” he added.


“We have been working on the guide for some years. “It takes a while to produce these sorts of books because you have to collect and examine museum specimens and get photos, spend years in the field photographing,” said Spawls.

It has been an uphill task as Wasonga, research scientist from the herpetology section of the National Museum of Kenya said.

Kenya has over a hundred species of known frogs with 20 endemic in isolated spots. Of the caecilians, most have only been recently discovered and are in isolated spots like the Sagalla Hill Caecilian, Taita Hills Caecilian and Spawls’ Caecilian from Ngaia forest.

“The book has a map and text for all 100 Kenyan frogs and seven Kenyan caecilians, pictures for virtually all and for most species, at least two pictures, in some cases four or more, showing the variations, like the female from the male.

The free download with over 230 colour photographs of Kenyan specimens with up-to-date maps and data is available at and is important to teachers, biologists, naturalists, farmers and conservationists because it gives updated information on the state of the environment by either presence or lack of amphibians.