"Extinct" Frog Reappears in Zimbabwe

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"Extinct" Frog Reappears in Zimbabwe

The rare “cave squeaker” frog has been sighted in Zimbabwe for the first time in over 50 years.

Also known by its scientific name, Arthroleptis troglodytes, the cave squeaker has not been seen since its discovery in 1962. The rare frog was added to an international red list of threatened species as critically endangered and thought to likely be extinct.

The recent frog spotting took place in Chimanimani, a mountainous area in eastern Zimbabwe. Robert Hopkins, a 75-year-old researcher, and his team from the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe discovered four cave squeaker species in the rugged habitat.

Hopkins has been searching for the frog since 1998. He applied for a grant from the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund to conduct another search in an effort to finally track down the elusive amphibian.

“I was not with my team when they were found. I was at the base. I can no longer climb the mountains as I am 75,” Hopkins said.

The team located the first specimen in early December 2016 after following an animal noise they had never heard before. Since then, 3 more frogs have been discovered. Researchers plan to breed the frogs and return them to the mountain.

Increased interest in the cave squeaker by the science community could lead to the frogs being captured and exported illegally. The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority is prepared to devise a park management plan in order to protect the endangered frogs.

Top Photo by: JackyR, CC BY-SA 3.0

Chamberlain Smith is a freelance writer based in Athens, Georgia.

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