On my last night in Kumasi, I set out with SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana to conduct an informal survey of the amphibians of the Bobiri Forest and Butterfly Sanctuary. This forest is located about 30km outside of Kumasi. Ghana contains an incredible diversity of butterfly species and the Bobiri Forest is home to at least 400 species. The amphibian diversity is high as well and the Sanctuary contains about 25 species. However since 2008 some of these species have yet to be seen in the area. As it is still currently the dry season in Ghana I did not expect to find rare species, but I hoped for the best!
Before we entered the Sanctuary, we came across some teenagers carrying wood. They were obviously coming from the Sanctuary so we stopped to talked to them about unsustainable wood harvesting practices. Even though the Bobiri Forest is a reserve, local villagers are allowed to gather wood. The main threats that face the integrity of the forest are unsustainable logging and clear cutting practices from the villagers and the interruption of scientific research within the boundaries of the reserve. The Bobiri Forest is intended to be a model for sustainable logging practices in Ghana and there are many studies that are conducted to learn how to manage a closed canopy forest in combination with selectively logging trees for timber.
Night fell quickly as we entered the park. We adorned our rubber boots and headlamps and tromped off into the forest. As I look into that black ink of the unknown, I am overcome with joy. I love being in the forest!
The first frog we found was this Arthroleptis spp. This genus of frogs is very difficult to identify with the naked eye. Do you see the mosquito on the back? Even frogs hate mosquitoes! Why do you think they eat so many of them? In reality amphibians are incredibly important for controlling insect populations. Malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes and this disease is a serious problem in Ghana.
While walking through the forest we came across a few streams and puddles. It would make sense that we found this gorgeous little Puddle Frog, Phrynobatrachus accraensis!
The next group of amphibians we found were some of my favorites that I have had the opportunity to observe while in Ghana. This individual is one of the “rocket frogs” or Ptychadena longirostris. Can you see it? This species has great camouflage!
They call these frogs “rocket frogs” as they seem to shoot off like rockets when disturbed. That pointed nose allows them to cut through thick vegetation with ease as they escape predators.
This group of Ptychadena longirostris was hanging around a large puddle. Something about seeing a frog in a puddle makes me squirm with delight! It’s cute, right?
SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Executive Director Gilbert Adum is quite good at catching these fast frogs! In 2008 Gilbert conducted research in the Bobiri Forest by creating an inventory of the amphibian species found in the area. Unfortunately many of the frogs he discovered have yet to be seen again.
We found another species of “rocket frog”. This species is Ptychadena mascareniensis.
Ptychadena mascareniensis is closely related to Ptychadena longirostris, but you can see the difference in coloration and body shape.
To determine the species, amphibian biologists look at certain morphological structures, color patterns, and behaviors. Ptychadena mascareniensis is identified by the spotted and yellow thighs. Please note this frog is gently being restrained and this is actually the safest way to handle a frog!
Besides frogs, we also found this beast. This is an Amblypygid, or commonly called a Tailless Whip Scorpion. These are harmless to people but they are quite large. This one was as large as my hand.
It was my lucky night because we also found a snake! Woo-hoo!
I am still searching for the identity of this species, but I am confident it is nonvenomous. However, in the field a guess is never a substitute for certainty. Therefore I was very careful when handling this animal.
The snake displayed gorgeous coloration on its face and body. It was relatively mild mannered as I attempted to take photographs. It would not rest for a second!
While we did not find any of the rare frogs we hoped to see, it was still a great adventure exploring the Bobiri Forest. Being in the forest is truly my element and while I am there I quickly find peace.
Lastly, I found this Tiger Frog, Hoplobatrachus occipitalis, resting on a steam bank in a forest located on the outskirts of Kumasi, Ghana. This species is the most commonly harvested frog for food in Ghana, but many other frog species share a similar fate. Over-harvesting, deforestation, pollution and pesticides are all very serious threats that face the amphibians of Ghana and SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana is working tirelessly to reverse these dangers and protect the frogs of this amazing country! As I observed this beautiful frog I could not help but think that if it knew what we were doing to protect the amphibians of Ghana then it would surely say “Thanks!”
Your contributions to our work in Ghana have been vital to the success of our programs in West Africa. Thank you all so much for your endless support and dedicated efforts to help SAVE THE FROGS!
If you would like to donate and learn more about our programs in Ghana, please visit: www.crowdrise.com/savethefrogsghana
A very special thanks from the Frogs and Toads of Ghana!