With weeks to go to the groundbreaking release of the Endangered Pickersgill’s Reed Frog and the largest release of its kind in Southern Africa, Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ), in partnership with the Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) Ezemvelo Wildlife, the Endangered Wildlife Trust and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) are set for a historic release of 400 frogs on 10 November 2020 at the Buffelsdraai landfill site in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
What began as an ambitious journey in 2007, the captive breeding programme got underway with only 20 frogs from two sites housed in tailored-made laboratories at the Johannesburg Zoo. The successful reintroduction of approximately 300 frogs was released in KwaZulu-Natal in 2018.
This collaborative partnership, the Amphibian Conservation Project, will again release 400 frogs on 10 November 2020, the largest number in Southern Africa.
The Pickersgill’s Reed Frog (PRF), scientifically known as Hyperolius pickersgilli and only about 2.5cm in size, is Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Species.
The deadly outbreak of the Chytrid fungi (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) in the late 2000’s, lead to the deaths of amphibian populations and even extinctions in other countries.
This reintroduction marks a huge breakthrough in reaching the Department of Environmental Affairs’ objective of improving the conservative status of the PRF, ultimately to Least Concern and improve its protection as part of meeting international biodiversity objectives through applied conservation action.
The Pickersgill’s is endemic to KwaZulu-Natal and is found only along the coastal stretch from St Lucia on the North Coast and Warner beach in the South. This ground breaking flagship breeding project aims to create sustainable insurance populations of Endangered amphibians that can be re-introduced into their natural environment (in-situ environment).
Frogs, including the Pickersgill’s reed, are an important indicator species and play a vital role in safeguarding ecosystems like feeding on malaria carrying mosquitoes and maintaining a balance in our biodiversity.