Darwin’s Frog Conservation Centre
To establish a research and breeding station for Darwin’s frogs in Chile
The genus Rhinoderma includes two species, Rhinoderma darwinii (Darwin's frog) and Rhinoderma rufum. The first species is listed as "endangered" and the second as "critically endangered'' on the IUCN Redlist. Rhinoderma rufum has not been sighted for more than 20 years; the population of Rhinoderma darwinii is believed to be declining. One main reason for this decline is habitat destruction (clear cutting of natural Valdivian forests and transformation into plantations of Pinus or Eucalyptus trees), but chytrid fungus may play a role as well. However, there is little knowledge about the species' biology and its population status.
Leipzig Zoo together with the herpetological magazine "Reptilia", the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations and the University of Concepcion in Chile have set up a research and breeding station on the grounds of the university in May 2009. Three outside cages and two container rooms are used to keep Darwin's frogs and breed them in inside terrariums and outside cages. Intensive monitoring and research is conducted in the framework of a PhD study in order to find out more about the living conditions and habitat requirements of the species. The project aims to develop and keep a stable ex situ population, to exchange surplus animals with other breeding projects (e.g. Santiago Zoo) and keeping facilities and to accumulate knowledge about ideal housing conditions. Gaining veterinary experience about the disease chytridiomycosis in Darwin's frogs is another goal. A long-term aim may be the reintroduction of the species into the wild according to IUCN guidelines, if the situation allows.
WAZA Conservation Project 10003 is implemented by Leipzig Zoo, in cooperation with the herpetological magazine "Reptilia", the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations and the University of Concepcion. Additional support is provided by Chester Zoo.
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