This is the first record of the species from this area (previously only known from two localities on the Massif de la Hotte). It is now the only place where two burrowing frogs are known to share the same habitat. This species is quite spectacular, with big jet black eyes and bright orange flashes on the legs. Males call from shallow, underground chambers and eggs are also laid underground, where they hatch directly into froglets.
Aside from the earthquake, large-scale deforestation continues to threaten the country's wildlife. According to CI, less than two percent of Haiti's original forest cover remains, and most of the fresh water ecosystems there are degraded. The cloud forests of the southwest mountains, however, stand tall as one of the last remaining pockets of environmental health and natural wealth in Haiti. The Alliance for Zero Extinction highlights the Massif de la Hotte as the "third-highest site-level conservation priority in the world." It has 15 endemic amphibian species found only in this one region.
"A common assumption about Haiti is that there is nothing left to save," said Moore, who also documents his findings as a photographer with the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). "That is not entirely true. There are biologically rich pockets intact, despite tremendous environmental pressures. Haiti now has the opportunity to design their reconstruction plans around these pockets, and grow them, so they can more effectively act as natural buffers to climate change and natural disasters."
Hedges added that there is little time to waste in this effort.
"The biodiversity of Haiti, including its frogs, is approaching a mass extinction event caused by massive and nearly complete deforestation," he said. "Unless the global community comes up with a solution soon, we will lose many unique species forever."
The six newly rediscovered frog species hopefully foreshadow many more such environmental success stories from Haiti to come.
Moore concluded, "Finding six lost species in these relatively small corners of the country tells us that, despite tremendous human pressures, nature is hanging on in Haiti. There is reason to hope. Managed properly, these species and ecosystems can become a source of natural wealth and national pride for the country, that we hope will offer long-term benefits for its people."
The amphibian project will continue throughout 2011. To follow its progress, please visit The Search for Lost Frogs.