The Panamanian Golden frog (Atelopus zeteki) we are told, has become extinct in Panama The frog is widely believed to have been totally wiped out by the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis)which is an infectious skin disease affecting frogs all over the world.
Panamanian golden frogs communicate with each other through semaphore - a gentle waving of its foreleg - and also communicates through sound. This particular frog lacks eardrums so this method of communicating allows them to signal to rivals and mates above the noise of the mountain streams.
The frog is steeped into the mythology of Panama with locals believing that when the frog dies it turns to solid gold. Even a sighting of one is considered to be lucky and will bring good luck to those who see it. People in the region also collect the frog to take to their homes as it is considered so lucky, and of course this further exacerbates the problem of declining numbers of this creature.
The frog has been wiped out by deforestation and loss of its natural habitat. There are efforts going on in Panama to keep breeding golden frogs in captivity to help raise their numbers. Once the numbers are thought to be high enough to keep the species from going extinct, they will be released into the wild.
The possible loss of this frog in the wild has a massive impact on the wider environment. Frogs are extremely sensitive to environmental change and can show the trend of how things are going for the health of an ecosystem. They play a vital role in the food chain, and some have been found to produce chemicals that cure human diseases.
The golden frog is still surviving in zoos, but unfortunately it is not known when the species will be able to return to its natural habitat, if ever, due to the devastating effects of the chytrid fungus.