Panama is a haven for biodiversity with one of its national parks boasting UNESCO World Heritage status. It is home to around 200 species of amphibians, which are now sadly threatened by the rapidly spreading chytridiomycosis fungus. Scientists recently confirmed that the fungus has reached one of the last disease-free areas in Panama, meaning urgent action is needed if the species in the area are to be saved. The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project is a consortium of nine U.S. and Panamanian institutions aiming to do just that.
The project, launched in 2009, aims to rescue twenty priority amphibian species in danger of extinction and establish ex-situ colonies in order to safeguard them should their wild populations be completely wiped out. They are also working towards methods to reduce the impact of the chytrid fungus so that the captive amphibians can one day be used to re-establish populations in the wild. The project’s frogs are currently held in used shipping containers that have been turned into rescue pods in Gamboa, Panama, and at the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center in El Valle, Panama. The bio-secure units in Gamboa are staffed by specially trained amphibian care staff and two of the first residents of the pods were the stunning Critically Endangered La Loma tree frog (Hyloscirtus colymba) and the Endangered limosa harlequin frog (Atelopus limosus).
In order to raise awareness of their important work, the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project have launched a ‘Cute frog of the week’ feature which aims to profile the spectacular diversity and value of the world’s frogs using stunning imagery. To help with this campaign, ARKive is sourcing images of some particularly cute amphibians for the feature, the Appenine yellow-bellied toad definitely falls in to the ‘cute’ category! You can read more about ARKive’s involvement with the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project here.
Becky Moran, ARKive Media Researcher