For all of you nay-sayers who are against keeping animals in captivity, at least one tiny toad will disagree with you. The Kihansi spray toad is a very small, colorful toad who lives only in a particular 5 acre area of Tanzania that was hit with the spray of the waterfall. When a dam was built further up that river the toad’s small area dried up and became extinct in the wild by 2009. The dam, which provides a third of Tanzania’s electricity, reduced the flow of the waterfalls.
What was Done
Laura Klappenbach reported: “Fortunately, prior to the toad’s disappearance in the wild, scientists gathered 499 of the toads in an effort to save the species. After years of captive breeding, there are now 1,500 toads at the Toledo Zoo and 5,000 toads at the Bronx Zoo.”
What of the future of the toads? New York Daily News reports: “The goal is to eventually move them to the Kihansi Gorge, where the Tanzanian government has installed sprinklers in an attempt to recreate the toads’ habitat.”
And it was all thanks to zoos.
The problem (and solution) is local too
So what about here in Utah? Is our Hogle Zoo part of any breeding programs? Yes, As adorable baby elephant, Zuri would attest. in fact a few with frogs and toads! Utah is home to the Columbia spotted frog and boreal toad, and both species have seen a rapid decline in the Wasatch Front and around Utah.
According to Chris Crockett, native aquatics biologist of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR), there has been a 50% decline in populations of both species in this region within the last five years. Chris said, “Boreal toads were abundant along the Wasatch Front five years ago with populations existing in both Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons. A total of five toads were counted in the last survey, which indicates they have been virtually eliminated from this area.”
Why are Frog and Toad our friends?
The reason why frogs and toads are so important is their role as an indicator species. Very sensitive to changes in air and water quality these amphibians act as an environmental miner’s canary, letting us know where there are problems. In addition they just add to the diversity of life! Zoos and private individuals who breed these animals who are so threatened in the wild might well be credited with keeping some creatures around for our grandchildren.