Considered an extinct species since 1996, and not seen since the 1950s, the Hula Painted Frog (Discoglossus nigriventer) made a surprise reappearance in the Hula Nature Reserve in northern Israel last week.
Stop! A blog post about a frog? Yes, a blog post about a frog!
We can learn a lot from the following story about the resilience of Nature and the ability of man to make amends for his past mistakes and take positive steps to fix the environment.
Last week the discovery of a small frog caused a huge sensation in Israel. "It’s like finding the Dead Sea Scrolls of nature conservation in Israel,” declared Dr. Sarig Gafni from the Ruppin Academic Center’s School of Marine Sciences, an expert in amphibians.
“I saw something jump that didn’t look familiar,” said Yoram Malka of the Hula Nature Reserve, according to media reports. “I rushed over and caught a frog, and when I turned it over I saw that it had a black belly with white spots, the identifying mark of the painted frog. I immediately returned [with it] to the reserve’s office and took out the animal handbook, and I saw that what I had found looked exactly like the painted frog that appears in the handbook.”
The Hula Painted Frog, also known as the Israel Painted Frog, is endemic to the Hula marshes. It disappeared after Israel drained the Hula in efforts to eradicate malaria and make the land arable, a project held responsible for extensive ecological damage.
In 1996, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared the Hula Painted Frog extinct, but Israel continued to list it as an endangered species.
According to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, additional fresh water from the Jordan River has been diverted to the Hula Nature Reserve in the past three years to rehydrate the marshes and this has resulted in an improved ecological environment.
The specimen found last week is a female. Park officials hope to return her to nature as soon as possible with hopes that the population of her species now has a chance of survival.
Picture from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.