News Release

Protection for new toad species discovered in Colombia

10 January 2011
Chocó harlequin toad (photo © Robin Moore)

A new species of harlequin toad has been found in Chocó, Colombia during a field project supported by the SOS-Save our Species initiative in which IUCN is a partner.

IUCN Member Conservation International leads the project together with its project partner Fundación ProAves who is implementing conservation work on the ground. Protecting and restoring key sites for globally threatened amphibians is the project's main objective.

“To find a new species is incredible - and very important”, says project leader Robin Moore of Conservation International, and member of IUCN's Amphibian Specialist Group. "The harlequin toads have been one of the most vulnerable group of amphibians. Out of more than 120 species of harlequin toad, only a handful of species have healthy surviving populations.”

The harlequin toads are so-called because their bright colours are reminiscent of the colourful costumes worn by performing harlequins. However, the newly-found species is unusual because it is a deep brown/black colour, with bright red eyes. It is the only harlequin toad with red eyes, and from this characteristic alone, it was obvious that it was a new species.

The SOS grant will be used to protect and manage the toad's habitat, build a resource centre from where forest guards and researchers can be based, and to educate local communities and build local support for conservation.

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