Update from Cordillera del Condor, Ecuador


Staff from Zoo Amaru and the Philadelphia Zoo check some male glass frogs
Gualacenita Stubfoot toad rediscovered by Zoo Amaru staff
glass frogs
Terrariums for adult glass frogs
Last year, the Amphibian Conservation Center – Zoo Amaru (ACC-Zoo Amaru) received a grant from the Amphibian Ark to help us save populations of amphibian species from Cordillera del Condor in the southern corner of the Ecuadorian Amazon. These and many other species of local wildlife were threatened by the imminent destruction of their habitat due to a mine-prospecting project. One of the species rescued is the yet-to-be-described wampukrum toad, Atelopus sp nov. wampukrum. This species is associated with other Amazon harlequin toads and its population has been already decimated by chytrid fungus and road construction projects.

We also rescued individuals from newly-discovered Ecuadorian populations of glass frogs, Rulyrana aff. erminea and Rulyrana mcdiarmidi (IUCN Data Deficient); which are considered endangered. The grant helped us prepare our facilities to receive assurance populations from these threatened amphibians by outfitting a new room to accommodate populations, improve our feeder insect colonies, tighten our biosecurity protocols, and increase our veterinary staff’s capacity to respond to amphibian diseases and treatment.  More importantly with this help, we were able us to.

Now, after seven month since we rescued our first frogs, we are thrilled to inform the amphibian ex situ conservation community that our Rulyrana mcdiarmidi laid eggs in mid February and those eggs have now hatched. ACC-Zoo Amaru is now the proud parent of a batch of over 75 tadpoles produced by two clutches of eggs laid in a tank. And we still have our fingers crossed, waiting for the remaining two clutches laid on a separate tank to hatch any day now.

But that’s not all! Our visits to rescue these amphibians yielded some impressive results, including finding more individuals of the Azuay stubfoot toads (Atelopus bomolochos) from the Andean highlands of Ecuador and three individuals of the Gualacenita stubfoot toad (Atelopus nepiozomus), a species that has not been officially reported since 1985. Historically, six populations of the Gualacenita stubfoot toad were thought to persist, but none were found. Some were observed in 2004 and then again in 2009, but now a new population has been recorded in the amazon highlands of Morona Santiago Province in Ecuador thanks to Amphibian Ark. Both stubfoot toad species have been incorporated into our rescue mission and we are working diligently with Amphibian Ark and the newly formed Ex situ Amphibian Conservation Coalition in Ecuador to incorporate these management plans into a national strategy for the conservation of amphibians in Ecuador.