Well, now I am back from that fabulous trip to Costa Rica I am hoping that people realised it was never really about finding an elusive Golden Toad. But instead, I think I found something much more valuable to me personally. As I lay in my bunk on the last night before heading out of Monteverde Cloud Forest, after us triumphantly finding a trio of rare Isthmohyla rivularis specimens, including the gravid female, I wasn’t sleeping quite as soundly as you might think. I had dreamt of finding a pair of these frogs for so long, and here I was with the perfect opportunity to initiate a captive breeding programme for the species. But when I woke, in my heart, I knew I would rather leave them in the wild where they belonged than ever see them in captivity. I love animals, and have a passion for amphibians that has been with me from as early as I can remember. I have long believed that captive breeding was a way to save these wonderful creatures from extinction, but this year, that night, something inside me changed. I now believe that the only place for wild animals is in the wild. So I came back empty handed. Just to know that those beautiful, very special frogs will probably be calling tonight, in Monteverde, and that the female may have spawned in that crystal clear stream, fills me with more happiness than you might ever realise.
The other thing to come out of the amazing trip for me has been the realisation that there are many more committed individuals in Costa Rica who are passionate about the conservation of these and other rare frogs than I had thought. All the people I had the pleasure of sharing this trip with were particularly exceptional in that respect, Mark, Alex, all the guards that joined us, and colleagues at both the Monteverde Rainforest League and the Tropical Science Centre. The early part of the trip, which was spent filming frogs at The Costa Rican Amphibian Research Centre with my friend Brian Kubicki, was also very special. Brian was carefully raising some Anotheca spinosa, a rare tree hole dwelling species, from tadpoles to small froglets, in-situ. This ensures that most survive rather than perish, and that the young get the head start they need for a life in the wild. Brian’s attitude, knowledge, experience, and real hard work never fails to impress me – he is a true inspiration. I cannot speak highly enough of this guy and the commitment and effort he continues to put into real amphibian conservation. See also BBC link: Whats next for Costa Rican Frogs: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7612961.stm