In a former shipping container, salvation for frogs
Amphibian conservation biologists Brian Gratwicke and Roberto Ibáñez believe the only way to save endemic tropical frogs in Panama from oblivion is to remove them from their natural habitat.
The reason is simple: the frogs of Panama’s rainforests and rivers continue to fall prey to the devastating fungal disease known as chytridiomycosis. The Panama-based Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) estimates that 25 to 50 species in the country—from the larger narrow-mouthed frogs, to the aerodynamic, camouflaged tree frogs, to the striped, tiny poison dart frogs—are at risk of extinction.
In 2009, Gratwicke and Ibáñez, with support from STRI and numerous international donors, opened the Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project at Summit Municipal Park, a wildlife park 30 minutes west of the city along the Panama Canal. There, a repurposed shipping container houses what is known as “Amphibian Ark,” where endangered frog species are protected from the threat of Bd.