Today marks a day in history in the conservation and reintroduction of the Endangered Pickersgill’s Reed Frog into its natural environment. Unmistakably 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 to release 400 frogs at the Buffelsdraai landfill site in Kwa-Zulu Natal later this afternoon.
This tiny frog, scientifically known as Hyperolius pickersgilli is no larger than 2.5cm in size and is Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Species.
This incredible milestone began in 2007 with a total of only 20 frogs which were captive-bred at two sites in tailored-made laboratories at the Johannesburg Zoo. The successful reintroduction of approximately 300 frogs were released in KwaZulu-Natal in 2018.
The Amphibian team started their journey from the Johannesburg Zoo just after midnight on 9 November 2020, with the 400 frogs, meticulously placed into chemical-free, plastic jars, conducive to the survival of the frogs. Regular stops were done to monitor the frogs.
Marked with colour-coded and patterned frog markers, the frogs are easily identified and glow during the night. This process will facilitate tracking and monitoring of the frogs.
The 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 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.
Issued on behalf of Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo
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