Yesterday marked a year since the devastating earthquake in Haiti, which killed at least 200,000 people and ruined much of Port-au-Prince. And while the human inhabitants of Haiti are still struggling back, there’s been a bit of good news from the wildlife sector. Biologists have rediscovered six frog species in the Haitian forest that haven’t been seen in two decades and were feared lost.
“I am very wary of highlighting frogs at this time in Haiti. Obviously the country has very pressing needs, but I think ultimately they are a symbol of something more hopeful,” said Robin Moore, an amphibian expert with Conservation International who helped lead the expedition that found the frogs. [MSNBC]
Moore’s expedition set out in search of the La Selle Grass frog (E. glanduliferoides), which hasn’t been seen since 1985 and is feared extinct; the mission was part of Conservation International’s “Search for Lost Frogs” campaign. The researchers didn’t find the La Selle Grass frog, but they found plenty of other frogs that they hadn’t expected to catch sight of.
“It was incredible”, said Dr. Moore. “We went in looking for one missing species and found a treasure trove of others.” [press release]
Haiti’s landscape has been ravaged by deforestation, and when the cloud forests fell, amphibians and other animals lost their habitat. As the researchers trekked through the fragments of pristine forest that remain in southern Haiti they located 25 of Haiti’s 49 known amphibian species, and were delighted to find the six “lost” frogs still hanging on. Moore says their resiliance should encourage Haiti to step up its conservation efforts:
“A common assumption about Haiti is that there is nothing left to save…. That is not entirely true. There are biologically rich pockets intact, despite tremendous environmental pressures. Haiti now has the opportunity to design their reconstruction plans around these pockets, and grow them, so they can more effectively act as natural buffers to climate change and natural disasters.” [press release]
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