Hula Painted frog re-discovered!

Last recorded Hula painted frog from 1955 (C) Professor Heinrich Mendelssohn, Tel- Aviv University

Today I was thrilled to learn that the Hula Painted frog (Discoglossus nigriventer) from Israel has been found after it was thought to be extinct since the 1950s. Even before this frog was declared extinct its biology and ecology were very poorly known, as only two adults and two tadpoles were collected in 1940, and and a third specimen was found in 1955.  This was the last report of this frog until 16th November 2011! The frog was believed to have gone extinct because of the draining of the wetland areas in which it breeds as a means of eradicating malaria. Painted frogs (Discoglossus sp) are among my favourite species, and I have great memories of finding lots of Discoglossus pictus (pictured) in S-W France when I was there studying at university in Perpignan. Most species are nocturnal, and occasionally diurnal and reproduce in quite large temporary breeding ponds when it rains, but one species, Discoglossus montalentii from Corsica breedings in rock pools formed by mountain streams.

Painted frog (Discoglossus pictus) (C) Matt Wilson

I’d imagine that this discovery will now spark an international investigation from Herpetologists, some of which I am sure will try to find tadpoles and adults for their private collections merely because it is an extremely rare species. Therefore, it is vital that the area in which this frog was re-discovered is protected, as International collectors may soon arrive on the doorstep of this beautiful, and now critically endangered species.

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By Matt Wilson