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Amphibian hunt ends in disappointment

posted 25 Feb 2011, 13:01 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 25 Feb 2011, 13:05 ]
A global search for one hundred species of amphibian has ended in disappointment for scientists at the non-profit group, Conservation International. They had hoped that the unprecedented mission would lead to the rediscovery of creatures that have remained hidden for decades. Instead it merely deepened the belief that they may have become extinct. Tara Cleary has more.
REUTERS / CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL - Dr. Robin Moore of Conservation International is passionate about frogs and in August last year he led an unprecedented hunt to find 100 amphibian species not seen for at least ten years.

The search involved teams of scientists and encompassed 21 countries on five continents. They were

looking for rare species as the Golden Toad of Costa Rica, not seen since 1989 and Australia's Gastric Brooding Frog, which gives birth through its mouth.

But six months later, Dr Moore says the quest yielded very little.

DOCTOR ROBIN MOORE, CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL, SAYING:

"Now that it's over, we found four of the hundred species on the list. I was hoping we would find more."

One positive result was the rediscovery of Ecuador's Rio Pescado Stubfoot Toad, named as one of the top ten most sought after.

The other nine, though, were not found.

DOCTOR ROBIN MOORE, CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL, SAYING:

"Extinction is a natural event. Species are always going to go extinct. Species are going to evolve, but the rate of extinction right now is an order of magnitude above the natural rate of extinction and many of the threats that we see are tied to human activity."

The teams had some luck in finding rare species that were not on the top-100 list, like Mozart's frog and the Macaya Breast-Spot frog.

But Moore says the outcome spells bad news for humans as well. Insect populations are likely to increase and species that rely on amphibians for food will find it more difficult to sustain themselves, causing a domino effect for all kinds of other animal life.

DOCTOR ROBIN MOORE, CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL, SAYING:

"You can hear the facts and the figures and of course, they're alarming but I think until you're actually there witnessing an extinction, it's hard to really put that in context and see that this forest, this stream that used to bubble with life, is just silent. It's devoid of life and I think that's very sad."

More than thirty percent of all amphibian species are threatened with extinction and Moore hopes that awareness raised by the mission will urge local communities to act before it's too late.

Tara Cleary, Reuters.

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