Every once in a while, species thought to be extinct are rediscovered. This is the case with the cave squeaker frog which was not seen since 1962, but researchers were able to discover new specimens in the mountain of Zimbabwe.
The frog, also known as Arthroleptis troglodytes, is quite small, measuring only a few inches, it has a dark red coloring and it’s completely covered in mucus. The cave squeaker frog was not seen for 54 years and only thanks to a group of researchers from South Africa and Zimbabwe, are we able to celebrate that at least one animal species has avoided extinction at least for now.
The frog was rediscovered in December of last year in the Chimanimani Mountains, the same location where the animal was last sighted in 1962. The rediscovery of the frog was part of worldwide effort conduct by researchers concerned about the future of amphibians. They began a coordinated search for various types of frogs and salamanders which was not seen in the last decade.
The latest Global Amphibian Assessment, which was finalized in 2004, showed that around 1,856 species are endangered. This number represents 32 percent of all amphibian species, which quite a dramatic increase compared to the 12 percent of birds and 23 percent of all mammals, which are currently threatened with extinction.
Since 2004, some of the numbers have changed, for some species for the better while for others took a worse turn. However, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the findings of the 2004 report still remain quite relevant, even today.
The first results of the world-wide effort to rediscover amphibian species were quite disappointing, as just four out of a total of a 100 were located with 11 rediscoveries taking scientist by surprise. After the researchers met in 2015, the cave squeaker frog was prioritized as one of the top ten species needed to be rediscovered.
Robert Hopkins, an associate researcher from Natural History Museum in Zimbabwe, was the main driver behind the efforts to rediscover the cave squeaker frog. He conducted an expedition into the country’s Chimanimani National Park together with his colleagues and with support from the Mohamed bin Zayed conservation fund.
The frog was eventually discovered by one of the team members, a South African student by the name of Francois Becker.
Image credit: Francois Becker