A rare cave squeaker frog that has not been seen in decades and listed as possibly extinct has made a reappearance once again, a big surprise for most scientists.
Researchers in Zimbabwe said they have found four specimens of the Artholeptis troglodytes, known as the “cave squeaker,” in its known habitat of Chimanimani, a mountainous area in the east.
Robert Hopkins, a researcher with the natural history museum in Bulawayo city, said his team found the first male specimen on Dec. 3 after following an animal call that they had not heard before.
He said they have been looking for the cave squeakers for eight years.
“I was not with my team when they were found. I was at the base. I can no longer climb the mountains as I am 75,” Hopkins said.
The team also found discovered another two males and a female.
The cave squeakers were first discovered in 1962, but there were no other reported sightings of the elusive amphibian after that.
Researchers plan to breed more frogs with the ones taken from their habitat and then reintroduce them to the mountain summit. The frog is tiny and light brown with dark spots.
Now authorities fear for the frogs’ security, especially from “the scientific world” whose huge interest could result in the frog being captured and illegally exported. Hopkins said 16 specimens are on display at various museums, including the British Museum.
“We are expecting an influx of scientists looking for it. We will do everything in our power to protect and conserve the frog,” said Caroline Washaya-Moyo, spokeswoman for the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. She said a park management plan will be devised to protect the cave squeaker.