“Lost” Toad Species Reappears In Borneo After 87 Years

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by Jaxon S on July 14, 2011

in Borneo Flora and Fauna

A toad species scientists feared had extinct, reappeared in the jungle of Sarawak, the Malaysian state on Borneo Island recently. Listed as the Top 10 most wanted lost toad, the Sambas Stream Toad was last seen in Europe 1924, according to Conservation International (CI).

The toad, Ansonia latidisca, was previously known from only three individuals, and was last seen in 1924, CI said.

Rainbow toad... Photo released by Conservation International which recently discovered the elusive amphibian. Photo credit: Prof Indraneil Das

“Prior to the rediscovery, only illustrations of the mysterious and long-legged toad existed, after collection by European explorers in the 1920s,” CI said in a press release, announcing the discovery.

A picture of the Sambas Stream Toad, released by Conservation International which recently discovered the elusive amphibian. Photo credit: Prof Indraneil Das

Excerpt from CI press release:

Dr. Indraneil Das of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) was one of those inspired researchers. After announcing his new discovery of a tiny pea-sized frog in Borneo last summer, the Old World’s smallest, Das and his team targeted the missing Sambas Stream Toad species for rediscovery last August.

Initial searches by Dr. Das and team took place during evenings after dark along the 1,329 m. high rugged ridges of the Gunung Penrissen range of Western Sarawak, a natural boundary between Malaysia’s Sarawak State and Indonesia’s Kalimantan Barat Province. The team’s first expeditions proved fruitless in their first several months, but the team did not give up. The area had barely been explored in the past century, with no concerted efforts to determine whether the species was still alive. So Das changed his team’s strategy to include higher elevations and they resumed the search.

And then one night, Mr. Pui Yong Min, one of Dr Das’s graduate students found a small toad 2m up a tree. When he realized it was the long-lost toad, Dr. Das expressed relief and near disbelief at the discovery before his eyes.

“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,” said Dr. Das. “They remind us that nature still holds precious secrets that we are still uncovering, which is why targeted protection and conservation is so important. Amphibians are indicators of environmental health, with direct implications for human health. Their benefits to people should not be underestimated.”

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