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Frogs thriving near organic sugarcane plantations

Frog populations seem to be thriving near some of our organic sugarcane plantations, we've been pleased to note.  Frogs are very sensitive to pollution, so their presence shows that the environment is clean.  We like to think that CADO's organic farming has helped to keep it that way. 
Volunteer photographer Paul Bamford visited us in late 2007 to photograph our projects and the local wildlife.  He left us with around a thousand fantastic photos - and the challenge of identifying some of the animals, birds and insects.  In April 2008, Paul contacted us to say that he thought the frog pictured here might be a relatively rare colour-morph of the phantasmal poison arrow frog (or phantasmal poison dart frog), Epipedobates tricolor, unique to a very few locations in Ecuador and listed as endangered by the IUCN.  
"Amphibians such as frogs are massively important as indicators of habitat quality, as they are one of the first groups of vertebrates to be affected by pollution and other changes in the environment", Paul tells us.  "Therefore, endangered frogs = healthy ecosytem.  They are important for keeping ecosystems healthy in their own right, because they prey on invertebrates.  Studies all over the world have shown that crop pests increase when amphibian populations decline".
Frog expert Mario Yanez at the Natural History Museum of Ecuador believes that our frogs are actually a particularly beautiful colour-morph of Epipedobates anthonyi. The E. anthonyi were previously considered to be the same species as E. tricolor and only molecular analysis or distribution show a difference between them.  E. anthonyi does not seem to have a common name, just being known as a type of poison dart or poison arrow frog.  The species is listed as "near threatened" rather than endangered, with its main threat being agrochemical pollution.  We will continue to keep an eye on them and press on with our organic agriculture efforts to conserve the habitat for them and other amphibians.
Amphibians all over the world are under threat from the chytrid fungus (see Amphibian Ark's chytrid fungus page) so it is more important now than ever to keep the habitat of these frogs unpolluted.   You might like to support the Year of the Frog campaign.  
CADO, our sugarcane alcohol project, is moving closer to selling organic alcohol on a fairly-traded basis on the international market.  It's a long process but we are gradually moving forward.  Success will mean that more existing and new members can convert more land to organic status for the benefit of local families, frogs and other wildlife.  
Update October 2008: a recent visit to the river found a few small frogs and large numbers of tadpoles, another good sign of the health of the frog population and the wider ecosystem.


CRACYP news: amphibians thriving near CADO's organic sugarcane plantations in Ecuador - frogs good indicator of healthy habitat.
CRACYP - news of sustainable development and reforestation in rural communities in Ecuador
'Green Progress': social and economic development which protects the environment


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Dark red, green and scarlet poison dart frog, leaping from a rock

Striped lime green and dark reddish brown poison arrow frog, sitting in a tree.
Poison Arrow Frogs in Ecuador