This video is called Kihansi Spray Toads Return to the Wild.
Tanzania: Kihansi Toads Reintroduced in the Wilderness
By Abdulwakil Saiboko, 12 March 2013
Kilombero — TANZANIA has gone down in history as the world’s first country to successfully reintroduce into the wild amphibians that had been in danger of extinction.
This has been revealed during the release of the second batch of 1,500 Kihansi Spray Toads (KST) into their natural habitat at Kihansi gorge at the weekend. A health complication known as chytrid fungus led to massive deaths of the species in the early 2000s.
A researcher from the University of Utah in the US, Dr William Newmark, said shortly after the release that the occasion was the first in the world and that many countries will have to learn from Tanzania. “This is the first time in Africa as well as the world, where we have witnessed a successful reintroduction of amphibians into the wild. This is the result of careful experiments,” he said.
Dr Newmark, who is also a consultant with the World Bank, noted that local and international scientists working in the reintroduction process have agreed to release a significant number of toads every year. “We will learn as we go along. The first release came with challenges that we tried to address in this second round.
Likewise, the coming round will be improved further as we will be having new ideas to bank on,” he said. He added that plans were underway to reintroduce another 3,500 toads as soon as possible. The University of Dar es Salaam Head of Zoology and Wildlife Conservation, Dr Felister Urasa, said that the first batch of 2,000 toads was released into the wild on October 30, last year.
“Those introduced in the first batch are doing fine and this is due to the fact that researchers have made efforts to see into it that there is enough food at the gorge and that their habitat is free from diseases,” she said. She added that tireless efforts made by National Environment Management Council, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, University of Dar es Salaam, Sokoine University of Agriculture and World Bank have seen the toads going back home.
The Lower Kihansi Environmental Management Project Co-ordinator, Ms Amina Kibola noted that Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) has also contributed greatly in the process. “Tanesco has put an artificial sprinkler in place, trained ten officials who work in ensuring that the spray system works properly.
Kihansi stands as a successful story of Tanesco’s environment management efforts,” she said. Ms Kibola noted that a lot of efforts have been made in educating villagers in the vicinity of the gorge in ensuring that they are not involved in activities that are detrimental to the welfare of the toads.
The Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWRI) Eastern and Southern Zonal Coordinator, Dr Denis Ikonda, noted that his institute would ensure the sustainability of the toads in the wild. “We have the role of ensuring that the toads are not getting extinct once again and this will be done by ensuring that all the detrimental elements are prevented,” he said.
Dr Ikonda, who led the reintroduction exercise, noted further that objectives will be achieved given a reputable background TAWRI has in dealing with cases of that nature. He pointed out the recent reintroduction of wild dogs into Serengeti National Park as vivid example.
Wild dogs disappeared from the Serengeti in the 1980’s. During the construction of Lower Kihansi Dam, the population of KST which are unique of Kihansi declined due to the reduction of the amount of wetland habitat receiving natural spray. The toads’ population was attacked by a fungal disease called chytridiomycosis that threatened to wipe out the rare species from the face of the world.
About 500 of the toads, scientifically known as Nectophrynoides Asperginis, were in the year 2000 taken to the United States, because they were in danger of extinction. At Bronx and Toledo Zoos in the US the toads are said to have multiplied to over 6,000. The scientists have noted that the successful study will see many more toads being flown back home from the US.
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