[crb_slide image=”https://www.rainforesttrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/long-limbed-salamander-robin-moore.jpg” credits=”Long-limbed Salamander. photo by Robin Moore” title=”” text=””]
Two enigmatic salamander species thought to be lost to science for nearly 40 years have not only been recently rediscovered, but Rainforest Trust and a consortium of international conservation groups have securely protected the last of what these endangered species call home.
Rainforest Trust and five partners recently purchased a 2,279-acre property in the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes Range in northwestern Guatemala. Known as the Finca San Isidro, the parcel contains critical habitat for the Long-limbed Salamander, listed by the IUCN as Endangered and the Finca Chiblac Salamander, listed by the IUCN as Critically Endangered.
The destruction of San Isidro’s cloud forests appeared imminent due to plans to convert the area into a coffee plantation. Having been convinced of its immense conservation value, however, its owner instead opted to sell the property for conservation purposes to Rainforest Trust’s local partner, Foundation for EcoDevelopment and Conservation (FUNDAECO).
[crb_slide image=”https://www.rainforesttrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/black-eyed-frog-for-web.jpg” credits=”Black-eyed Leaf Frog. photo by Robin Moore” title=”” text=””]
Finca San Isidro is home to a plethora of amphibian species, including the recently discovered Cuchumatan golden toad (Incilius aurarius) and the distinctive Black-eyed Treefrog (Agalychnis moreletii). Ten of the 20 amphibian species that live in or near the property are classified as Critically Endangered or Endangered by the IUCN.
“The Cuchumatanes Range has long been identified as an epicenter for endangered amphibians and one of the highest global conservation priorities,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust. “We are delighted to provide urgently-needed assistance to establish the first nature reserve in the region.”
The Finca Chiblac and Long-limbed salamanders were discovered in the 1970s. The salamanders, however, were not seen again until Carlos Vasquez, amphibian conservation coordinator at FUNDAECO, rediscovered them while leading a scientific expedition in 2014. These species, which represent new genera, provide fresh insight into the evolution of new-world tropical salamanders.
[crb_slide image=”https://www.rainforesttrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/finca-chiblac-salamander.jpg” credits=”Finca Chiblac Salamander. photo by Robin Moore” title=”” text=””]
“The establishment of the San Isidro Amphibian Reserve – the first nature reserve in the Western Highlands of Guatemala – is a great conservation success,” said Marco Cerezo, executive director of FUNDAECO, whose organization will oversee management of the reserve. “It marks the beginning of a regional effort to support the protection of forests in the northwest of Guatemala, a region of exceptional biodiversity. Thanks to all our partners that came together to create this sanctuary for unique and endangered amphibians.”
Organizations that supported this project include FUNDAECO, Rainforest Trust, the Amphibian Survival Alliance, Global Wildlife Conservation, World Land Trust and the International Conservation Fund of Canada.
Rainforest Trust would like to thank George Jett and an anonymous donor for their generous support of this project.
Visit Rainforest Trust’s Flickr album to view more photos of endangered species living in the Cuchumatanes Range.