Great efforts for small animals

By Evelyne Daigle | 26 July 2012| Panama
1121 - I - Photo credit Red eye leaf frog Red eye leaf frog
1120 - I - Photo credit The many vivariums in the containers where the frogs are fed, treated and protected. The many vivariums in the containers where the frogs are fed, treated and protected.
1123 - I - Photo credit Frog of Panama Frog of Panama
1119 - I - Photo credit Containers serve as shelter for the frogs as the chytrid is widespread in their environment Containers serve as shelter for the frogs as the chytrid is widespread in their environment
1122 - I - Photo credit The frogs' bright colors warn that they are venomous The frogs' bright colors warn that they are venomous
1118 - I - Photo credit Our crew searching for survivors Our crew searching for survivors
1117 - I - Photo credit Scientists give meticulous cares to their captive animals Scientists give meticulous cares to their captive animals
1116 - I - Photo credit Panama's tropical rainforest, the frogs' natural habitat Panama's tropical rainforest, the frogs' natural habitat
1850 - V - 6458498 Photo credit Frogs and chytrids

Panama, where we currently find ourselves, burgeons with a rich diversity of plant and animal life, along with many protected areas and nature parks. Panama’s tropical rainforest is also the habitat of nearly 200 species of frog, most just a few centimetres long and highly colourful.

But since 2005, a “serial killer” has swept through Panama’s forests and rivers, wiping out many frog species and lengthening the list of threatened species. This terrible foe is a fungus, commonly called a chytrid, that enters through the skin of amphibians and transmits a fatal disease.

The 1000 Days for the Planet team has met a number of frog-loving scientists along the way who keep “Noah’s arks” for these amphibians. Imagine a shipping container in the middle of the forest filled with vivariums, some of which contain the last specimens of a species, and you’ll have a good picture of these unusual oases. These people, passionate about their work, are doing everything they can to preserve these species and get them to reproduce in captivity. They treat the chytrid-infected ones and protect the uninfected ones until a solution can be found.

To save the last survivors of a species, amphibian and reptile specialists called herpetologists spend day and night collecting frogs from nature and bring them to the conservation centre, where they treat them with great care. There are also many volunteers involved, along with a number of U.S. and Panamanian organizations. All are dedicated to achieving their mission: preventing what could be one of the worst ever vertebrate extinction events due to disease.

It is impressive and touching to see the dedication of these scientists and citizens working together to save these small, vulnerable animals. They must watch over their wards 24/7 and recreate the habitat conditions of each species as closely as possible.

They bear a huge responsibility, but they love their work, and, above all, they love the frogs. Greatly aware of the importance of preserving this vital link in the web of biodiversity, they are nevertheless optimistic despite the fact that solutions are only just starting to emerge. But thanks to them, all is not lost. Far from it!

« previous next »
Comments0
Thank You. Please note that your comments will be moderated.
Add a comment