After an 87-year absence the Borneo rainbow toad has been discovered or rather rediscovered. A group of 126 researchers have scoured the rainforests and mountains of 21 countries on 5 continents in 2010 in search of lost amphibian species.
After three months of night-long expeditions, one of Dr. Indraneil Das’ University Malaysia Sarawak graduate students eventually spotted a small toad in the high branches of a tree. In all, the team found three toads, each measuring about 2 inches long and decked out in bright colors. A black and white drawing from 1924 was the only previous evidence of this sought after amphibian.
Conservation International, which launched its Global Search for Lost Amphibians in 2010, had listed the toad as one of the “world’s top 10 most wanted frogs”.
Here’s THE TOP 10 “LOST” AMPHIBIAN SPECIES:
• Golden toad (Incilius periglenes) Costa Rica – last seen in 1989
• Gastric brooding frog (Rheobatrachus vitellinus and R. silus) Australia – last seen in 1985
• Mesopotamia Beaked Toad (Rhinella rostrata) Colombia – last seen in 1914
• Jackson’s climbing salamander (Bolitoglossa jacksoni) Guatemala – last seen in 1975
• African Painted Frog (Callixalus pictus) Dem. Republic of Congo/Rwanda – last seen in 1950
• ((FOUND)): Rio Pescado Stubfoot Toad (Atelopus balios) Ecuador
• Turkestanian salamander (Hynobius turkestanicus) Kyrgyzstan/Tajikistan/Uzbekistan – last seen in 1909
• Scarlet frog (Atelopus sorianoi) Venezuela – last seen in 1990
• Hula painted frog (Discoglossus nigriventer) Israel – last seen in 1955
• ((FOUND)): Sambas Stream Toad (Ansonia latidisca) Borneo – last seen in the 1920s
Robin Moore, the amphibian expert who launched the Conservation International project couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw an email from Dr. Das announcing the discovery and attaching the first ever picture of the rainbow toad as proof.
He says, “It is good that nature can surprise us when we are close to giving up hope, especially amidst our planet’s escalating extinction crisis. Amphibians are at the forefront of this tragedy, so I hope that these unique species serve as flagships for conservation, inspiring pride for Malaysians and people everywhere.”
Also known as the Sambas stream toad, the colorful creature was found in the Sarawak state of Malaysia’s island of Borneo.
International Business Times says, “The sleek and beautiful cats are victims of human intervention, destroyed by poachers, killed by shepherds protecting their flocks and targeted by illegal pet traders. The paper also estimates that there are only 4,000-7,000 snow leopards left in the wild and that number has dwindled 20% in 20 years.
In another project, Conservation International used listening posts to find a population of 455 Gibbons in Vietnam. The primates have a very distinct call which helped researchers locate the group.
Ben Rawson who leads the gibbon research project says, “The northern white-cheeked crested gibbons belong to the crested gibbon family, which has been dubbed the most endangered primate family in the world.” While these primates roamed widely across China, Laos and Vietnam, there are believed to be only about 10 wild gibbons left in the Chinese wilderness.
The only known population of northern white-cheeked crested gibbons have been able to thrive because of their remote location high in the mountains on the Vietnam-Laos border. But new road construction and other development threatens the newly discovered population.