Nelson Mandela once said, “Nothing is impossible until it’s done.” And this is exactly what a group of passionate scientists and concerned conservationists found out as they successfully released 400 (and some!) tiny endangered Pickers Gill Reed Frogs into luscious wetland habitats in KwaZulu-Natal.
To celebrate their success, 400 Frogs, a documentary about this intriguing process will flight on:
- Channel: PPLWX People°sWeather DStv Ch180 | Openview Ch 115
- On: United Nations World Frogs Day, March 20
- At: 6pm
About 400 Frogs
Watch what it took to release captive-bred Pickers Gill Reed Frogs back into their natural environment! The documentary follows a dedicated team whose mission seemed simple: an epic effort to change the status of the frogs from critically endangered to vulnerable. Against some odds and challenges they did it! The team, of course, included amphibian and reptile specialist scientist, Ian du Plessis (curator at the Johannesburg City Park and Zoo), and 2020 Whitley Award-winner, Dr Jeanne Tarrant (Endangered Wildlife Trust).
400 Frogs Frolicking on The Journey
The long drive from Johannesburg Zoo in heavy rains to release the frogs at three separate sites in KZN took some commitment and endurance from the team. Keeping 455 chirruping frogs and tadpoles alive (and happy) on their journey, carrying them on foot into muddy reed-filled wetlands, in the dark and rain, and making sure they were happily re-introduced into their new home was certainly an adventure not for the faint hearted. But they did it!
Regardless of the sweat, rain, wet, mud, bad-visibility, tall-reeds, unexpected spiders, insects, snakes and more, producer Daniel Fisher says it was worth every struggle – especially to know the frogs have moved from being critically endangered, to endangered.
So, how was this even possible?
400 Frogs tells it all! This Amphibian Research Project has successfully managed captive breeding, release, and monitoring of the species, through:
- the Johannesburg City Park and Zoo,
- Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife,
- South African National Biodiversity Institute,
- the Endangered Wildlife Trust,
- and in specific Dr Adrian Armstrong & Dr Jeanne Tarrant who developed and co-authored a Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) which has been the foundation for this programme.
Jo’burg Zoo – That’s who!
“We started this process in 2006, when the Johannesburg Zoo recommended the conservation of amphibian life on the planet after some species had almost been wiped out in some parts of the world,” explains Ian. “Globally we needed to have some kind of insurance policy for endangered species. The idea here is that we create populations away from the sites where they occur, where we can breed them and then release them back into their natural habitats. Big dreams, I know. But possible and worth it.”
The largest and most successful amphibian conservation project in SA!
Ian is upbeat about the project’s success which has to date released 780 captive-bred frogs back into KZN: “We are proud to say that we are the first and only BMP that has been able to complete a full circle from capture to breeding to release and monitoring numerous times. It’s the largest most successful amphibian conservation project in South Africa, and we are reaching out to assist other African Zoos to start similar programmes.”
The weather service channel just had a revamp!
PPLWX – People°sWeather is Africa’s first and only 24/7 weather, environmental news and lifestyle channel. Available on DStv CH-180 and Openview CH-115. Viewers can look forward to a wide range of documentaries, focusing on Nature and the Outdoors, Food, Travel and Eco-Tourism, Farming and Agriculture, Science and Sustainability, as well as Live – a new take on Eco-Sport. People living the Weather!
Join Ian and his team on their adventure as they release their captive-bred proteges and monitor them as they settle into their new homes, and re-capture new breeding pairs to take back to Johannesburg to start the exciting and life-changing process all over again – all captured by 400 Frogs!