In 2021, we received approximately 50 applications from the ASA Start-up Conservation Grants call. On the one hand, this high number of applications demonstrates there are amazing amphibian conservation projects being conducted worldwide. However, it also illustrates how many organisations are in urgent need of funding to conserve amphibians. Because our resources are unfortunately limited, the ASA is only able to fund a small proportion of the projects that have applied for our grants. However, because we consider all projects to be important for advancing amphibian conservation around the world, we would like to publicise them on our platforms, to help draw the attention of other funding entities, potential collaborators and/or partners.

Below you can learn more about the project Conservation of the Globally Threatened Rostand’s Paa Frog (Nanorana rostandi) in Lower Kaligandaki Valley, North-Central, Nepal proposed by Friends of Nature (FON) (Suman Sapkota, [email protected]).

Rostand’s Paa Frog/Duboi’s Paa Frog (Nanorana rostandi) is a medium sized frog (SVL ranges from 34-64 mm) belonging to the family Dicroglossidae. It is thought to be a rare species dwelling in high altitude streams above the elevation of 2200 m. Previously supposed to be endemic to Nepal (Dubois, 1974), this species has also been recorded from Tibet (Ke et al. 2016). It is considered to be Vulnerable with global population declining (IUCN, 2004). Since its discovery in 1974, nothing more was known about the ecology of the species except its presence in some localities of Nepal and Tibet (Hofmann et al. 2019). Its habitat is severely fragmented and constantly degraded which makes its survival more challenging. Beside this, the species is facing serious population decline due to excessive hunting for food and perceived medicinal values.

Due to the lack of scientific evidence on its distribution in Nepal, conservation interventions focusing on the species were not initiated yet. Local people are also involved in hunting of the species without knowing its value and role in ecosystem. The proposed project is designed to collect information about the habitat and microhabitat selection by the species and to update the information on its population, distribution and threats. This will provide a proper baseline on the species status (population and distribution), ecology and threats to initiate a long-term research and conservation interventions. The species is not assessed by IUCN since 2004, hence the success of this project will also open the way for a new assessment.

Acoustic survey aided with nocturnal time-constrained visual encounter survey will be used to study the present status of the species in the project area. The project will be a milestone on frog research in Nepal using bioacoustics. We will also create a frog call library. Conservation outreach programs targeting local stakeholders and ‘Frog Classrooms’ will be conducted to generate awareness among local community and students on the species ecological role and on the urgency of its conservation. The project will also initiate the ‘Know your frogs’ campaign in which students will learn about different frog species in their surroundings.

The unique feature of Rostand’s Paa Frog, which can survive in cold streams of the Himalayas, needs urgent research and conservation interventions. The species is struggling for its existence because of multidimensional threats and challenges in the country. Assessment of its population and threats will be significant for its long-term conservation and to generate attention of the concerned authorities. Amphibians are facing severe decline across the globe; hence immediate action is required to protect rare species before they face extinction. The project not only targets single species, but it will also be a good opportunity to explore many other unknown species living in the remote Himalayas of Nepal.

We are seeking for patrons and potentials donors to this initiative; we thank in advance all the help we may have.

Image: Friends of Nature – team members (Photo by Raju Acharya)