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Harlequin Heaven

Searching for frogs has become a big part of my life, since my early childhood where I spent days in and around my local park’s pond. However, the frogs searched for nowadays are somewhat rarer. Here I find myself deep in the humid primary forest of the Santa Fe National Park, Panama. For the past few days myself and colleagues from Panama Wildlife Conservation, have been looking for the critically endangered Harlequin Frog, Atelopus varius.

We have been granted special permission to work with the species, assess the population, and the unusual habitat it frequents, in an effort to collaboratively support this colourful amphibians’ conservation.


Harlequin Frog, Atelopus varius (c) Andrew Gray

The species lives in flowing watercourses through the jungle, preferring to frequent the sides of powerful waterfalls and the moss covered rocks of fast-flowing streams rather than the surrounding primary forest. This makes for treacherous work, which is proving really hard going, but seeing these animals in the wild is simply heaven!

The fieldwork is just one aspect of the project, which also includes environmental education with the local community and an ex-situ component at Manchester Museum.


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