Frog hunt: In search of the world’s rarest frogs
Posted by Miqe on September 8, 2008
A team of researchers is in Costa Rica attempting to track down some of the world’s rarest frogs to aid their conservation.
Science reporter Rebecca Morelle joins the University of Manchester and Chester Zoo team as they head into the rainforest.
We have now moved from the frog-laden forests of the Costa Rica Amphibian Research Center up to the highlands of Monteverde, where the hunt for some very rare species has begun.
This area used to be teeming with amphibians – but since the population crashes of the late 1980s this is no longer the case.
An eerie silence pervades the cloud-shrouded forest, with only the occasional frog call breaking through.
Our plan this evening was to track down a critically endangered frog called the red-eyed stream frog, which the team are trying to learn more about to aid its conservation.
The red-eyed stream frog is extremely rare
Given that the frog is tiny, nocturnal and extremely rare, the task seemed to verge on the impossible – but the team had a few tricks up their sleeves.
We had been joined by naturalists Mark Wainwright and Alexander Villegas from Costa Rica, who came armed with a special CD packed full of red-eyed stream frog mating calls that had previously been recorded in the forest.
And as soon as we passed a site where the little frog had been seen some months’ earlier, at the touch of a button a soft, whistle-like call began to fill the air.
Seconds later, another near-identical sounded back – but this time the noise did not come from the speakers, but from a tree just above a stream.
After carefully scanning the leaves with torches, the tiny male, measuring just a few centimetres long was spotted – a beautiful little creature with red eyes and vivid green skin.
Getting some footage of it was quite a privilege – the team believes that this is the first time it has ever been filmed.