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Rediscovering frogs through conservation in Costa Rica


Frogs are amazing creatures, yet because they are so small they are highly susceptible to environmental changes. Many of them have gone extinct due to climate changes, new predators, fatal fungus infections, etc. Here in Costa Rica, naturalist guides, local travelers and researches are optimistic because conservation efforts are protecting a big percentage of forest, valleys and mountains. When remained untouched from humans it allows for new species of frogs and amphibians to be discovered. Some frog species have even come back from supposed extinction as is the case of the Heredia Robber Frog.

The Heredia Robber Frog was once abundant along streams in mountainous habitats of Costa Rica. It was known for its red belly and unlike most frogs, which lay eggs and hatch into tadpoles, it was believed that it skipped the tadpole stage and instead hatched directly into tiny frogs.These frogs all but disappeared after 1986 and in 2004 they were declared extinct. Amazingly the species was rediscovered in late 2016 by two researchers from the University of Costa Rica along the edge of Juan Castro Blanco National Park. The researchers who discoverd it were looking for a rare species of green-eyed frogs but found the Heredia Robber Frog instead (scientifically known as the Craugastor escoces).They carefully took it with them and showed it to colleagues who confirmed what it was. 

"We wanted to bring good news to the country and the world: this species has been revived, and this is positive news taking into account the harm that we people, have been inflicting on nature," stated one of the researchers, Gilbert Alvarado. 

Experts believed the disappearance of the frog was due to fungus (Chytridiomycosis), which some believe is the result of climate changes. As Alvarado shared, it is heartening to hear conservation news that is positive for a change. Juan Castro Blanco National Park protects 14,285 hectares in central Costa Rica and represents habitats such as cloud forest, tropical rainforest-lowland, and tropical rainforest-upland. It is also known as Parque de Aguas (park of waters) because of the many important rivers that start within its' boundaries.

I love being able to observe frogs in the wild. My 3 favorite places to spot them are Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui (at or around La Selva Biological Station), at the Osa Peninsula (Corcovado National Park and surrounding areas) and on the Caribbean coast (at the Cahuita National Park and some side trails in the area). Local guides will know these areas since they are the perfect ecosystems for these beautiful creatures. It was on the Caribbean coast that 'Kermit', a new species of see-through frog was also recently found. At all 3 places you can easily spot a dozen different types of frogs on a short walk.

3 trips I highly recommend to see frogs in a responsible and careful way are: Into the Wilds of the Osa PeninsulaUndiscovered Caribbean Costa Rica Adventure, and Costa Rica Family Vacation. If you are traveling with a good guide he/she will be able to spot different species during your Costa Rica adventure as they are very colorful and abundant.

Call me when you decide to hop into the wilderness of Costa Rica to see these princes and princesses in their real habitats. I'm just a croak away!

Your friendly tica,

Grettel Calderon

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