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Protection for Golden poison frog, the world's most poisonous vertebrate

28/02/2012 15:52:46

Nature reserve to help save it from extinction

February 2012: The golden poison frog lives deep in the heart of the Colombian rainforest. This tiny creature is considered to be the most poisonous vertebrate on Earth. International conservation charity, World Land Trust (WLT), has now created a nature reserve to save this spectacular species from extinction.

DEADLY: The golden poison frog

The golden poison frog is listed on the IUCN Red List as ‘Endangered' and recent years have seen a dramatic decline in numbers, linked to the loss of the frog's habitat. Until WLT secured the Rana Terribilis Amphibian Reserve, this species did not occur in any other protected areas and its survival hung in the balance.

Drenched in enough poison to kill ten men

Just 55mm in length, this tiny creature carries enough poison to kill about ten humans, with just a single milligram of toxin.

The frog's skin is drenched in an alkaloid poison that prevents nerves from transmitting impulses, leaving the muscles in an inactive state of contraction, leading to heart failure and death within minutes.

Long-recognised by the indigenous cultures in Colombia for its lethal poison, the Choco Emberā Indians would gently brush the tips of the arrows and darts on the frog's back (which causes it no harm), rendering the weapon lethal for over two years after.

But even the frog's lethal poison cannot protect it from the threats that humans pose. Deforestation, illegal gold-mining and illicit coca cultivation have all taken their toll. The frog is dependent on primary forest, and occurs across less than 150 sq miles of rainforest in Colombia, making it extremely vulnerable.

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