Last December, a team of researchers from Zimbabwe and South Africa went searching for a tiny frog which was last spotted in 1962. The tiny dark red frog, also known as “cave squeaker”, was found in the Chimanimani Mountains in Zimbabwe.
The scientists rediscovered the frog after six years of search. This search endeavor came as a concern for the safety of many species of frog and salamander which were not seen anywhere during the last decade. This rediscovery is much welcomed by researchers everywhere and comes as good news among the overwhelming amount of bad news about the world of amphibians.
Amphibians live both on land and in water and represent the standards of an ecosystem’s health. Unfortunately, their situation is not exactly a good one. In 2004, the Global Amphibian Assessment reported that 1,856 amphibian species were threatened with extinction. This means about 32 of all their populations.
Even though the numbers have changed, IUCN (The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) have announced that the figures from 2004 were still relevant. Hence, if authorities want to start a conservation program, they need to know what species are left.
This is when they started the search for lost frogs, which was initially bound to last for six months. Nineteen countries searched for amphibians not seen anywhere for decades, but the results were not so encouraging. They found only four out of 100 species of amphibians they were looking for. However, they rediscovered 11 species they were not expecting to find.
The scientists did not give up. They continued with their endeavor and popularized this search for lost frogs. The experts gathered in a meeting in 2015 and that was when Dr. Robert Hopkins, researcher at the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, presented the case of the cave squeaker.
That was when the cave squeaker was put in the top 10 African species in need of conservation research and its search was prioritized. Thus, the researchers obtained the second chance to look for the frog at the end of 2016.
It is not clear what this rediscovery should mean. More exactly, it is not clear if the species has completely recovered or the finding marks a population of a few scattered individuals. What is clear is the fact that researchers can now take all the conservation measures and prevent the cave squeaker from going extinct.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons