The Lake Junin frog and the Junin Riparian frog are two endemic species of the high Andes of central Peru. Before the year 2000, these species were abundant, being a food and economic resource for local people. Unfortunately, they are now endangered due to water pollution, climate change, overexploitation and the presence of introduced alien species that have decreased their populations by more than 95%. That is why the NGO Grupo RANA and the Denver Zoological Foundation, together with national and international allies, have been developing research, education and environmental management activities. At the end of 2018, after a scientific exploration, places where these frogs still exist were identified and it was confirmed that both species are strongly linked to the local inhabitants. While most people had seen them in their childhood, but very few had seen them recently. Thanks to this latest data, more than 10 new sites where these frogs occur have been reported.

The pilot project “Guardians of the Chinchaycocha frogs” began in 2019, with a presentation to the local communities, authorities and the management committee of the Junín National Reserve. Interviews were conducted with local people to measure their scientific knowledge, share experiences, and share information about their environmental perception of the conservation status of the frogs. From this, workshops grouped by stages were developed: (1) “little egg” workshop (theoretical) done virtually , (2) a “tadpole” workshop (practical), performed in the field and (3) “frog” workshop (will be developed as a bi-annual population monitoring of frogs). The names of the workshops were created from the developmental stages of the amphibians, huevito (little egg), unto (local name for tadpoles) and rana (frog in spanish). Thanks to funding from the Denver Zoological Foundation, National Geographic Society and Amphibian Survival Alliance, to date six “huevito” workshops have been carried out with the participation of a total of 40 people, including local residents, park rangers, tourism companies, and teachers, among others; five “unto” workshops with the participation of 15 people; and to close this part of the project, the “rana” workshop will be held at the end of April, in the post-rainy season. With the information obtained, a community monitoring protocol will be developed with help from the local participants,  along with a guide for community monitoring of high Andean aquatic frogs and a network of first guardians of the frogs, who will monitor the frogs and their habitats and train new guardians.

By Luis Castillo, Roberto Elias, Rogger Moreno & Jhusely Navarro. NGO Grupo RANA & Denver Zoological Foundation

Photo: Winy Arias & Jose Corneli