Horned Marsupial-Frog still alive in Ecuador

Articles | Horned Marsupial-Frog still alive | November 2018

It has leaf-like horns on top of its eyes, a pouch on its back to carry eggs, and most importantly hasn’t been seen in Ecuador since 2005… until now.

Gastrotheca cornuta

Adult female of Gastrotheca cornuta. Photo by Sebastián Di Doménico.

It is the Horned Marsupial-Frog (Gastrotheca cornuta), an Endangered and mysterious frog documented for the first time in Ecuador in over a decade.

This frog, which once ranged from Ecuador to Costa Rica, persists in an as yet untouched patch of Choco rainforest just outside the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve, in western Ecuador.

Gastrotheca cornuta

Outside the reserve, however, the frog is in danger of becoming extinct, as the area where it lives (the Ecuadorian Choco) has lost nearly 98% of its original vegetation cover and is facing the highest rate of deforestation in the country.

Deforestation in the Choco

Logging and palm oil crops are the main threat to the habitat of the Horned Marsupial-Frog. Photo by Lucas Bustamante.

Forest destruction, pollution due to fumigation, and enigmatic infectious diseases are thought to have driven the Horned Marsupial-Frog to the brink extinction.

Gastrotheca cornuta

Adult male of Gastrotheca cornuta. Photo by Frank Pichardo.

But there is hope. The frog was found in an area where plots of nearly intact rainforest are being sold for just $500 per hectare.

Who purchases the forest plots first (a logging company, a palm oil company, or a conservation organization) will determine the fate of the frog, and believe it or not this depends on you.

Gastrotheca cornuta

By donating at Save the Choco, where each dollar you give is matched by Rainforest Trust, you can help keep the Horned Marsupial-Frog alive, as well as many hundreds of critically endangered species that have found their last refuge in the only large remaining Choco rainforest in Ecuador.

See this video put together by Jorge Castillo.