You see a flash of movement in the corner of your eye, and then another, is there something there? Yes, some sort of toad it seems. Now, watch her climb slowly, slowly up the stem she’s on. Notice her spots and stripes, her green and blackish brown shades…but wait, she’s moving again, and quickly. Now into the water she goes! That was a rare Atelopus Pulcher, a species of toad endemic to Eastern Peru and you were lucky to have seen her.
The Atelopus Pulcher toad is a vulnerable species, according to the IUCN. And there’s actually not a lot we know about her. She can be found in the Huallaga River drainage in Cordillera Azul National Park in central Peru, although her range might extend all the way up to Ecuador. The Atelopus Pulcher is terrestrial and breeds in streams in lowland tropical forest. Like other frogs and toads, the Atelopus Pulcher is critical to the health of ecosystems like that of this region of Peru, where the Mountainous Andes meet the tropical Amazon Basin. Toads and frogs are important indicator species and play a key role in the food chain as both predators and prey.
The work of the Cordillera Azul National Park project is critical to understanding more about toads like the Atelopus Pulcher so that we can learn how to protect her. Conservation activities inside the park include biological monitoring and scientific research into a huge variety of species, especially those we need to learn more about. It is thought that one of the key reasons for the decline in amphibian populations in South America is due to an infectious disease called Chytridiomycosis, which some have suggested could be linked to climate change and rising temperatures. But more information is needed. Supporting critical scientific research within Cordillera Azul is continuing to provide highly important data on the key species that make up the park’s incredible biodiversity. Keep your eyes open, and be still, you might just see her again.
Learn more about the Cordillera Azul National Park project here, and get in touch with us to find out about how you can support this work.