Monday 11 December 2017

Elusive toad discovery 'thrilling'

A Sambas stream toad or Bornean rainbow toad has been photographed for the first time
A Sambas stream toad or Bornean rainbow toad has been photographed for the first time

Conservationists have managed to take the first photographs of one of the world's most elusive amphibians after it was found for the first time since the 1920s.

The Sambas stream toad, or Bornean rainbow toad as it is also called, was previously known from just three individuals and had not been spotted since 1924.

The photographs of the colourful, spindly-legged toad taken in Malaysian Borneo are the first of the amphibian, which was previously only recorded in illustrations dating back nearly 90 years.

The endangered species was rediscovered by scientists inspired by Conservation International's (CI) "global search for lost amphibians", and supported by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), who found three toads up a tree during a night time search after months of scouring remote forests.

The toad joins the Rio Pescado stubfoot toad, from Ecuador, as the only two species rediscovered from CI's top 10 list of "lost" amphibians.

Dr Indraneil Das, of Unimas, led the team which searched the ridges of the Gunun Penrissen range of Western Saramak and eventually found the toad. He said: "Thrilling discoveries like this beautiful toad, and the critical importance of amphibians to healthy ecosystems, are what fuel us to keep searching for lost species.

"They remind us that nature still holds precious secrets which we are still uncovering, which is why targeted protection and conservation is so important."

He added: "Amphibians are indicators of environmental health, with direct implications for human health. Their benefits to people should not be underestimated."

Dr Das is keeping the exact location of the discovery a secret to protect the brightly-coloured toads from collectors who prize them for the pet trade.

Dr Robin Moore, CI's amphibian specialist, who launched the global search, said he could barely believe his eyes when he saw the pictures of the long-lost toad. "To see the first pictures of a species that has been lost for almost 90 years defies belief," he said.

Press Association

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