The year before last I joined forces with my friend Mark Wainwright to try and help secure the future of a Critically Endangered Costa Rican frog, Lithobates vibicarius. This beautiful green-eyed frog, which was once abundant in Costa Rica and Panama, is now restricted to just one pond in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Following a guelling 2 day hike to the site, situated high on a mountain ridge far into the cloud forest, to our amazement we found a huge aggregation of the frogs breeding. To me it was a sight reminiscent of the last time the Golden Toads were ever seen at Monteverde, so I was especially pleased to have been given special permission from the Costa Rican Authorities to collect a few tadpoles, just in case the same thing happened to this amazing species. Here is a short clip of the frogs breeding that Mark recorded: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7611258.stm
Although more than 99% of these tadpoles tend to die in the wild, I was pleased that all the ones we collected survived. But the collection of the few tadpoles would be only the start of what we hoped might become a really important conservation initiative involving supporting the species in-situ, in Costa Rica. Upon my return, I tried desperately to get support for the preliminary conservation initiative I proposed. Chester Zoo welcomed the opportunity to support such an important project and in July I met with Douglas Sherriff and Richard Gibson, the Curator of Herpetology at Chester to progress the project. https://frogblogmanchester.wordpress.com/2008/09/04/welcome-to-frog-blog/.
The following September, Richard and Douglas, together with Steph Dawson (Manchester Conservation Biologist) would join me on a return visit to Monteverde, not to collect frogs, but to provide support and help facilitate the in-situ conservation of the species. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7612961.stm.
Over the past year, the preliminary project supported has been extremely successful in training people on the ground, collecting new environmental data, and screening the frogs for Chytrid. Credit, and my sincere thanks, go to all involved and especially Mark Wainright and Chester Zoo.
Please click here for the most recent project report: Lithobates vibicarius project report
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