In 2021, we received approximately 50 applications from the ASA Start-up Conservation Grants call, of which we will be able to fund six. Below you can learn more about the project A Conservation Project for the Three-colored Harlequin Toad (Atelopus tricolor), a Jewel of Bolivia to be executed by the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative (Patricia Mendoza-Miranda[email protected]) under the umbrella of the Atelopus Survival Initiative.

The Critically Endangered Three-colored Harlequin Toad (Atelopus tricolor) is known from the eastern Andes of Peru and Bolivia where it was once a common species. However, in much the same way as many other species of harlequin toads elsewhere, A. tricolor has suffered huge population declines and has not been recorded since 2003. In January 2020, after several attempts to find the species and almost 17 years without records, four individuals were found by two nature photographers in a province of La Paz, Bolivia, and this remains the only site in Bolivia where the species can be found.

The province is affected by anthropic factors such as rapid deforestation, which is being replaced by agricultural areas of coffee and coca production. During fieldwork, from December 2020 to April 2021, the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative (BAI) discovered a small population in a patch of forest where the photographers found the first individuals. We identified threats to the population including habitat loss, stream flow reduction and contamination. All these factors could eventually cause the extinction of this critical population. In this project, we aim to protect these A. tricolor populations – which to this day are the last and only known population of the species in Bolivia – by working jointly with the local people who coexist with the A. tricolor, helping them to revalue the importance of the proper care and use of natural resources (forests and water). The support of national and international institutions, and the union of different organizations having a common goal, will allow us to continue on this path towards the protection of this jewel of the Neotropics, the only representative of the genus in Bolivia.

The BAI is an organization that has been committed to amphibian conservation since 2007. BAI participated in, coordinated and created initiatives in research, capacity building, education, and management for amphibian conservation in Bolivia. The support and funding provided by the Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA) to execute this project will allow us to continue the conservation initiatives for the Three-colored Harlequin Toad and work on the connection that exists between A. tricolor and the people that inhabit the province where this wonderful species has been rediscovered. This project is also part of the Atelopus Survival Initiative.

Photo by Gabriel Callapa.