Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 13th, 2008
Fiji ground frog. Credit Nature Fiji.
Fiji’s endangered and endemic Fiji Ground Frog (Platymantis vitianus) has been rediscovered in an expedition into the Nakauvadra Range by local scientists.
The Fiji ground frog (locally known as Dreli, Boto ni Viti, or Ula) is one of Fiji’s three endemic frogs. Naturalists working in Fiji over the past 20 years had widely accepted that two species: the Fiji ground frog (P. vitianus) and the Megabotoniviti (P. megabotoniviti) had been eaten to extinction by introduced mongooses and humans on Vanua Levu and Viti Levu and were thought to only persist on the mongoose-free islands of Gau, Ovalau, Taveuni and Viwa (Tailevu). In 2003 there was the rediscovery of a population of the Fiji ground frogs in the Waisali Forest Reserve by the South Pacific Regional Herbarium.
Local herpetologists have in the past five years searched for surviving populations of the ground frogs in likely frog habitats on Viti Levu. The Viti Levu surveys into the Savura, Sovi Basin, Wabu and Tomaniivi Forest reserves were unsuccessful in locating any surviving populations and suggested that these frogs had indeed perished on Viti Levu.
A ten day expedition into the Nakauvadra Mountains by a team of researchers from the 17th to 28th November, 2008 has revealed otherwise. The rediscovery of the Fiji ground frogs was made in the first night near the expedition campsite.
“This rediscovery highlights the fact that we know so little about our own forests and the animals that inhabit them. Imagine how much more we would discover if we got our young people involved in learning about our plants and animals and their habitat. It is expeditions and research such as these that paint a more accurate picture of our unique wildlife in Fiji” Ms Nunia Thomas – NatureFiji-MareqetiViti coordinator and Herpetofauna team leader.
For more background information, see Wildlife Extra.