Several months after Conservation International (CI) launched our “Search for the Lost Frogs,” I’m excited to see that the momentum to find and protect the world’s rarest and most threatened amphibians continues to build. I am writing from Delhi, where I am honored to be presenting at today’s inauguration of the “Lost Amphibians of India” campaign.
The Western Ghats region of southwestern India is known to be one of the world’s important hotspots of biodiversity; the wet mountain slopes provide especially ideal habitat for amphibians. However, these forests are increasingly under threat from forces such as logging and agricultural conversion.
The University of Delhi’s Dr. S.D. Biju has compiled a list of 48 species that have not been seen for at least 18 years (and some which have not been seen for 170 years). Amphibian experts will soon head into the field to search for these missing species. The university’s initiative is supported by Global Wildlife Conservation, the Natural History Museum (London), the IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group, the Wildlife Conservation Society and CI.
It is fantastic to see the “lost” species concept generating so much attention, and our Indian partners have really gone all the way with their campaign, which will run over the course of the next year.
In attendance at the launch will be local and international scientists, conservationists and government officials. In addition, videos from cricketer Anil Kumble (cricket players are the true celebrities in India). and George Meyer (producer and writer for “The Simpsons”) will be shown, announcing their support for the project.
I look forward to joining an expedition in this area next summer, when the monsoon season brings out many species — including the bizarre purple frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis) that makes an appearance above ground for only two weeks of the year!
As we work with our partners to develop plans for a network of protected areas for threatened amphibians in the Western Ghats, this campaign really will raise the profile of the importance of amphibians. I believe that there are many lost amphibians — and even new species — just waiting to be found.
Robin Moore is an amphibian conservation officer at CI. Learn more or join the “Lost Amphibians of India” search.