Indonesia's Mt. Ungaran stretches more than a mile above sea level at its peak. Due south of the city of Semarang on the island of Java, the volcano offers varied landscapes – tea and coffee plantations, forests, and even some active vents that spew gases into the air.
At this unique place, a six-person team of scientists and volunteers is currently in the field, looking for the long-lost Jacobson’s bubble-nest frog (Philautus jacobsoni).
They’re some of the first researchers to head into the field on the Search for the Lost Frogs.
If they find even one “lost” amphibian, it would be an incredible start to this journey. Just as importantly, it would help draw public attention to the work you support at Conservation International (CI) – work that helps to stem the alarming rate of species losses around the world.
A biodiversity crisis
How quickly are species disappearing? On average, one species goes extinct every 20 minutes. Your support is vital to helping us preserve these important creatures – species that not only fill us with wonder, but that offer benefits that are crucial to human well-being.
Amphibians are no different. Some 30 percent of amphibian species worldwide are at risk of extinction – a particularly troubling statistic when you consider that humans get benefits from amphibians that include pest control and research into medical breakthroughs.
That’s why scientists are undertaking the Search for the Lost Frogs. It’s a big task, but it’s one that offers us the hope of finding species many thought would never be seen again.
What we’re looking for
Jacobson’s bubble-nest frog, native to the Indonesian archipelago, has not been seen in the wild since 1912, the same year as the sinking of the Titanic. It lives in the kind of tropical forests seen on Mount Ungaran – forests that are shrinking and declining in quality due to human activities.
Forest loss on Mount Ungaran has been so stark, in fact, that not much habitat remains for the frogs. If scientists are to protect Jacobson’s bubble-nest frog, they must find it – and the world must take action to protect what precious little is left of the area where it lives.
It’s a similar story with the Lost Frogs team now in the field in Venezuela. They’re looking for the scarlet frog (Atelopus sorianoi), a striking species characterized by its fire-colored skin. This frog is known to have lived in a single stream in the Paramito de San Francisco, a forest in the southwestern Venezuelan state of Mérida.
Like many frogs that have evolved to live in such “micro-habitats,” the scarlet frog was once abundant in its tiny corner of the world. But it has been hit hard by habitat loss. Twenty years have passed since its last sighting. And if any scarlet frogs still exist, scientists must find them soon. None of their habitat is currently in a protected area.
We’ll keep you up to date on the findings of the scientists in the field. In the meantime, if you haven’t already told a friend about the Search for the Lost Frogs, send an eCard and get them on board.
In the meantime, here’s to some amazing frogs.
Photo: Glass frog eggs.