Missing “Rain Frog” Resurfaces in Honduras: Freshwater Species of the Week

A critically endangered Miles’ robber frog was just found in Honduras by Jonathan Kolby. Photo Jonathan Kolby

freshwater species of the weekIn 2008, National Geographic Young Explorer Jonathan Kolby re-discovered a frog species endemic to Honduras that had been declared extinct. The amphibian had vanished mysteriously in the mid 1980s.

Now, the Australia-based Kolby told us via email, “I’ve been searching for more proof of its existence every year since, and finally found a second one a few weeks ago [in Cusuco National Park]!  It’s super exciting and shows the species is still hanging on to existence.”

But, Kolby warns, “There is now an onslaught of extremely devastating illegal deforestation throughout the park, which could potentially drive the species to true extinction.”

The Miles’ robber frog (Craugastor milesi) is a highland species that had been known in only two locations: Cusuco National Park and Cerro Azul Copan National Park in Honduras. Like other related species, the Miles’ robber frog eschews the tadpole phase, instead following “direct development,” in which tiny versions of adult frogs emerge from eggs. In the case of this species, eggs are laid in damp leaf litter.

Such frogs are often called “rain frogs,” because they depend on moisture directly from the heavens, instead of from a surface body. According to Kolby, the Miles’ robber frog also tends to be found close to rivers and streams, where it is moist.

Kolby said chytrid fungus is widespread in the frog’s habitat and that it may have contributed to the animal’s decline.

Illegal logging in Honduras
Illegal logging threatens the parks where the frog lives. Photo Jonathan Kolby

The Miles’ robber frog that Kolby found in July seemed healthy, he said. “It is unknown whether this particular animal was infected, but the presence of adult animals that look otherwise healthy strongly suggests hope for species–these animals may have undergone strong natural selection in the 1980’s and developed resistance to disease, despite the seemingly incredibly small remaining population.”

Still, he warned that illegal deforestation is on the rise in Cusuco National Park. “Expansive plots of rainforest are now being felled at an accelerated pace, and the site where I encountered this C. milesi is less than a couple kilometers from active clear-cutting activities witnessed while conducting my surveys,” he wrote.

“Sadly, it is likely that the habitat of this critically endangered frog may soon be destroyed, pushing it ever closer to extinction for a second time.


Brian Clark Howard covers the environment for National Geographic. He previously served as an editor for TheDailyGreen.com and E/The Environmental Magazine, and has written for Popular Science, TheAtlantic.com, FastCompany.com, PopularMechanics.com, Yahoo!, MSN, and elsewhere. He is the co-author of six books, including Geothermal HVACGreen LightingBuild Your Own Small Wind Power System, and Rock Your Ugly Christmas Sweater.

  • Flygon Zhang

    That is really sad, and whats more sad is that the governments aren’t doing a thing about it. They just keep on destroying the habitats of those endangered species.

  • Ed Cannon

    When all the frogs are gone, humans are not far behind.

  • Joe Pena

    The time has come to breed the critters in captivity, there are
    professionals that can create habitat, and increase breading,
    then create wild habitat, jobs in the Biological Science Field
    are needed !!!

  • Dhiraj shah

    I like most this channel

  • billy

    this is a good peice

  • Sheila Stewart

    Another forest, another endangered animal!!!

  • rebekka

    its going to take something drastic to happen to this planet BECAUSE of our actions as humans, for people to start to even think twice about changing their ways. its sad that its like that. whats more sad is that I wish it would happen soon because I want people to see the crap they’ve done. I want people to be just as hurt and scared as we have made them feel over the years because of our actions.

  • Onike

    The government should do something about these frogs or else another mother natures creature is going to be wiped off the face of the planet

  • John Smithson

    That is why I don’t Like the governments. All they care about is making money and leaving the planet in the dumps. Like did you know that it’s like the planet Earth is inside a ball of trash from pollution, and guess what, the government HAS NOT DONE A THING ABOUT IT! The world is better off without them. As a matter of fact mother nature and outer space is better off without the government.

  • Ash Shearer

    This is great news. Hoping conservation efforts can be made to successfully preserve this species!

  • Rebeca

    Wow. I’m Glad the frogs are still alive, but really people need to stop and think. There are so many extinct animals that would be alive today if people thought a little more about the consequences of their actions. I really hope the frogs make it.

  • Pond skater

    Well, all is true, the seriousness in the issue is what that need to be looked in to right now.

  • Pond Skater

    Well, having said all that, we really need to look in to the seriousness of the prevailing situation, that Jonathan Kolby has shown us. I do agree with a statement, made by John. Every where, the governemen acts funny. They do not really care about the Ecosystem or the complex interactions occuring within the system. All units of the biological system is undergoing a really tremendous change and alteraions, throughout. Hardly do people recognize the valuable impacts that population data generate, even if they are bing provided. It is just overlooked, or they take a meagre stand. Under the current scenario, whatever species that is being listed as commonly occuring or not endangered will begin to decline, if changes happen at this alarming rate. Am a biologist myself, who is studying frogs. I have witnessed such cases on several occassions, but pathetically without any good results

  • KCS

    Cusuco National Park is supposed to be a protected area. I can only imagine this being illegal deforestation. How terrible!

  • Grace

    This is really sad……and the governments are STILL not doing anything about it! Who do they think they are, a great big lump of people who will trash this world, not turning a cheek for when another one of Mother Nature’s species is eradicated? THIS IS WRONG AND SHOULD BE FIXED! The rainforests are home to millions of species that populate our planet, and this “miracle” frog has made a resurface! It has come back, showing all of humanity how stupid we all are, and yet most of us sit here and complain, and do nothing about it! This makes me want to puke, seeing how this deforestation is continuing. This is upsetting and sad, and we humans must do something about it. We overpopulate this world already, and 6 football fields of the Amazon Rainforest (Different one) are being cut down each minute! I declare we should all do something, to give back what we have taken from this earth, and give this species a chance! It has “risen back from the dead” once, and it might disappear for real, this time if we don’t do something to help.

  • katungye Emmanuel

    nature conservation is paramount

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