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Precious Pictures

Atelopus varius, (c) Andrew Gray

Fifteen years ago, Chris Mattison, the world renowned photographer and author, photographed a wide selection of frogs in the Vivarium. Many of the wonderful images he produced were used in our first frog exhibition ‘A World of Frogs’ and have also featured in a wealth of herpetological books and international features over the years. Unfortunately, also over the past fifteen years many amphibian populations have drastically declined and species have disappeared from areas where they once thrived in the wild. Areas of South and Central America have been particularly hard hit, with a changing climate and Chytrid fungus affecting many highland species, including Harlequin Toads of the Genus Atelopus.

Atelopus ignescens, (c) Chris Mattison

Both Chris and I have visited many places to see and photograph frogs during our careers and have experienced first-hand the effects of such drastic declines. For instance, in 1985 on his first trip to Ecuador, Chris found and photographed some black Atelopus ignescens toads on the Paramo of Ecuador, just north of Guaranda. He had been looking specifically for these toads, which are jet black above and orange below (pictured). He found them very easily – he tells me that upon getting out of his car he saw several, in broad daylight. Apparently they were everywhere.             But within a few years they had disappeared completely; none have been seen since 1989.

Photographs taken when capturing such unique moments become more precious with age, and looking back over them can bring memories flooding back of the first time you saw such an amazing creature in the flesh. I remember when Chris first saw and photographed the Costa Rican Lemur Leaf Frogs in the Museum, he was blown away with them. Then, they were still quite plentiful in the wild, but nowadays they are Critically Endangered and only known only from just 1 or 2 small breeding sites.

In a couple of weeks Chris will be returning to the Manchester Museum especially for our Wildlife Photography Course, which will provide others with a unique opportunity to see first hand and photograph for themselves some of the world’s rarest amphibians, including the Lemur Leaf Frog.

The course is now fully booked.

Here are just some of the species our participants will see and photograph:


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