Harlequin Frog conservation in Panama

Tue, 28 May 2019 10:34:00 BST

The Panamanian jungle is lush, pristine and very humid; the waters in its rivers are crystal clear. Surrounded by the sound of the jungle you would think you were in paradise. However, many species in Central America are critically endangered including the beautiful Harlequin frog (Atelopus varius) which has been listed as critically endangered and at risk of extinction.

Professor Amanda Bamford from the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health and Andrew Gray from Manchester Museum have teamed up with Panama Wildlife Conservation, a conservation group in Panama, and with the Government of Panama to support the conservation of this iconic frog. However, they recognise that the only true way to really make a difference in supporting future conservation is to involve local young people and their local communities.

One of their main objectives is to involve the local indigenous communities as co-researchers and involve in the programme to conserve the Harlequin frog. This is a crucial part of their new programme being developed in Panama and follows on from their conservation-related work in Costa Rica (Learning with Lucy).

A school environmental education programme has also been launched that involves activity booklets, videos, posters and workshops, developed by Amanda and Andrew here at the University of Manchester. Over 1,000 activity booklets have been distributed to local schools already. At the start, they are focusing specifically in Santa Fe national park and plan to expand both the environmental education programme in the area to more schools along with research and monitoring of the local Harlequin frog populations. Working with this rare frog and local communities is helping to make a difference to the conservation of this critically endangered frog and its precious habitat.