Threatened Frogs Seen in South African Bioblitz

Rainforest Trust is supporting the protection of 800 acres in South Africa home to threatened amphibians. A recent survey documented many of the key species.

A couple of months ago, Endangered Wildlife Trust, a Rainforest Trust partner in South Africa, launched a “bioblitz” to find and catalogue species in the Adams Mission wetland.

While they searched for all species, the project is particularly focused on frog conservation and bioblitz participants found 12 frog species on the day. Since frogs are more active at night, this is an impressive number for a daytime search.

These species included the Endangered Kloof Frog (Natalobatrachus bonebergi) and Pickersgill’s Reed Frog (Hyperolius pickersgilli), as well tadpoles probably of the Near Threatened Spotted Shovel-nose Frog (Hemisus guttatus).

“Not only do these surveys help inventory and monitor threatened species, they also serve as a valuable method of engaging the community in biodiversity stewardship, which is a critical component of the conservation strategy for this project,” said Katie Pugh, Rainforest Trust’s Aquatic and Invertebrate Species Conservation Officer.

“Discovering endangered species in your own backyard is an exciting experience that helps create a personal connection between community members and the mission of conserving habitat to ensure that these species persist.”

Check out some of the photos from the successful day!
 

Participants in the bioblitz. Photo by Endangered Wildlife Trust

 

 

A Bush Squeaker (Arthroleptis wahlbergi). Photo by Endangered Wildlife Trust

 

 

12 species of frogs were seen during the bioblitz. Photo by Endangered Wildlife Trust

 

 

An Endangered Kloof Frog. Photo by Endangered Wildlife Trust

 


For More Information and to Support this Project: Creating a Safe Haven for the Endangered Pickersgill’s Reed Frog

 

HEADER IMAGE: A Natal Tree Frog (Leptopelis natalensis). Photo by Endangered Wildlife Trust.

 

Successful Tortoise Survey in South Africa

Rainforest Trust worked to support the conservation of 810 acres of habitat for the Critically Endangered Geometric Tortoise, South Africa’s rarest tortoise. A recent survey discovered a large number of these and other tortoises in the area.

About 800 mature Critically Endangered Geometric Tortoises (Psammobates geometricus) are thought to remain in the wild. Recently, a survey around the site Rainforest Trust supports along with the Turtle Conservancy and South African Tortoise Conservation Trust found 72 mature tortoises in four hours.

Doing the math, that’s about 9 percent of the entire population.

Seen in four hours.

Other than the Geometric Tortoises, the team spotted a Parrot-beaked Padloper (Homopus areolatus) and two Angulate Tortoises (Chersina angulata). In addition, a Common Genet (Genetta genetta) showed up on a nighttime camera trap photo.

Support Rainforest Trust’s Work to Protect Habitat for Endangered Species Around the World

Climate Change Series Part 3 – Tropical Forests Impact Climate in More Ways than Just CO2

So far, our climate change series has investigated how tropical forests are significant carbon sinks and how deforestation and forest degradation are major sources of carbon dioxide emissions. But did you know that rainforests affect atmospheric gases and our climate in less well known, but equally important, ways?

“Tropical forests play an integral role in local and regional climates,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman, “and carbon storage is only half the story.”

The other half of the story has to do with rainforests creating cloud coverage and precipitation, both of which have a significant impact on local, regional and even global climate.

We have discussed photosynthesis, and its importance for carbon dioxide absorption. However, another equally important action plants conduct within this process is transpiration. When plants absorb water up from their roots, they convert the excess into water vapor and release it through small pores in their leaves. According to the United States Geological Survey, one large tree can release as much as 40,000 gallons of water back into the atmosphere every year. This has a direct effect on cloud coverage and precipitation patterns, and provides about 10 percent of the atmosphere’s moisture.
 

Which way is the water moving in Peru’s Amazon Rainforest? Photo courtesy of Thomas Mueller

 
Tropical plants also release the volatile organic compound isoprene as a byproduct of photosynthesis. Isoprene mixes with other gases in our atmosphere and creates secondary organic aerosols, which form ozone. Ozone is an essential part of our upper atmosphere, blocking the sun’s ultraviolet light and reducing our risk of skin cancer. However, when ozone is created in our lower atmosphere, it contributes to the development of clouds.

Cloud coverage acts as a regulator of local and regional temperatures in two ways. It provides precipitation as the clouds travel across the land and it provides higher albedo, or reflectivity of the sun’s rays. Clouds, much like ice and snow, reflect sunlight back into space better than the dark canopies of rainforest. This has a direct cooling effect locally and when considering tropical forests en masse, the planet as a whole. In fact, according to John Cook from the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Washington University, just a 1 percent reduction in albedo (including from cloud coverage, ice and snow) could increase global temperatures on a level equal to the doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Although these contributions come from all tropical forests, as the largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon releases the most oxygen, water vapor and isoprene, making it perhaps the most significant, natural contributor to the regulation of global atmospheric gases and climate. Amazon rainforest transpiration is so important that in the late dry season it is integral for bringing on each new wet season.

“These forests are self-propagating, in a sense; by holding moisture and maintaining temperature, they help create the very rains that sustain them in the wet season, Dr. Salaman said.”

Rainforest Trust has been working to protect tropical forests in Central and South America since our start in 1988. Thus far, we have protected nearly 10 million acres throughout the region, with plans to expand our efforts over the next few years, as part of our incredible directive to protect 50 million acres globally by 2020 through the SAVES Challenge. Some of our largest, current projects in the region include the expansion of the Airo Pai Community Reserve along with other conservation efforts in the Peruvian Amazon and the expansion of the Canande Reserve in Ecuador.

Support Rainforest Trust’s Work to Preserve Climate-Regulating Habitat around the World.
 

HEADER IMAGE: Double Rainbow forms over tropical forest in Peru. Photo courtesy of Rainforest Trust