Haiti frogs not seen for 20 years have been rediscovered

Haiti landscape

An expedition by conservationists to look for Haiti frogs, in the deforested hills of Haiti,  an area which suffered a terrible earthquake in 2010, has found frog species that have not been seen for 20 years.

In just over a week of searching in the remaining forests in Haiti, researchers found 25 of Haiti's 49 known frog species.

The hope is that this will focus attention on conserving the few percent that remain of the country's forest.

The expedition was not a total success however, with no sightings of the principal target - the La Selle grass frog, which was last seen 25 years ago and is listed as possibly extinct.

But among the species that were seen were five that were last recorded in 1991.

They include:

  • The Hispaniolan ventriloquial frog, named because of its call. Consisting of a rapid seven-note sequence of chirps, the animal appears to project its voice into the forest.  It releases the first few notes slowly, raising in pitch and the sound is released over the course of a couple of minutes.
  • The Macaya burrowing frog is one of several clinging on in the Massif de la Hotte, in the southwestern region of Haiti.
  • And another is the Mozart's frog which also acquired its name from its call, a whistling sound that emerges at dawn and dusk.
  • The Macaya breast-spotted frog is one of the world's smallest, with adults about the size of a grape.
  • And finally, there is the La Hotte Glanded frog, which very unusually for amphibians, has bright blue eyes!

Haiti frogs

However, the intent of the conservationists involved is not merely to protect the amphibians.

The rediscovered Haiti frogs are being used to show what they still have in Haiti in terms of their wildlife; but ultimately it's the forest that needs to be preserved, because if they don't save that, they've got nothing to grow from.

The expedition to Haiti in October was run by Conservation International and the Amphibian Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

It was an adjunct to a larger project aiming to rediscover amphibian species thought to be extinct - a project that has already turned up a Mexican salamander not seen since its discovery in 1941, a frog from the Ivory Coast last observed in 1967, and another frog from Democratic Republic of Congo not seen since 1979.

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