The potential eruption of the Cotopaxi Volcano in Ecuador threatens to wipe out the last surviving population of one of Ecuador's flagship species, the Quito Rocket Frog - a Critically Endangered species.
The Quito Rocket Frog was last recorded by scientists in 1989, considered extinct when in 2008 a population was discovered on the banks of the Pita River, 30 km south of Quito. Herein remains the only surviving population for the entire species.
Pita River receives its waters from the Cotopaxi glaciers. An eruption will melt the glaciers and will send large flows of volcanic rock and mud along Pita River, completely destroying the habitat where the Quito Rocket Frog survives.
The frenetic motion of this video captures the urgency of the project team's work tending to a group of tadpoles at the Balsa de los Sapos facility in Quito.
In response to this challenge this SOS - Save Our Species project implemented by the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE) is carrying out an emergency rescue plan.
Tadpoles are being moved temporarily to Balsa de los Sapos, an amphibian ex-situ conservation facility located in Quito. The tadpoles will be kept in captivity until the crisis is solved. As part of the rescue programme, Balsa de los Sapos hopes to develop protocols to successfully breed the frogs in captivity.
In the long term, the team will reintroduce the species at historic sites and increase its future probability of survival.
With the completion of this 3 month rapid action grant, the project team aims to:
(1) collect 100 tadpoles from the field;
(2) install the tadpoles under proper conditions at Balsa de los Sapos conservation facility and;
(3) start developing protocols to maintain and breed the species in captivity.