Expats help save local wildlife
PANAMA. The Panamanian golden frog, with its yellow skin and dark brown spots, is usually a symbol of good fortune. But it appears the...
PANAMA. The Panamanian golden frog, with its yellow skin and dark brown spots, is usually a symbol of good fortune. But it appears the local icon’s luck may have run out unless experts find a way to combat a deadly fungus threatening amphibian populations around the world.
Luckily, experts in Panama are getting help in the fight against the global amphibian crisis from concerned residents like renowned Canadian visual artist Yolanda Van Der Kolk. Through her new project “No digas adios” (Don’t say good bye), she hopes to help the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center (EVACC) deal with budget constraints.
EVACC is a joint project of The Houston Zoo and a number of other zoos from the United States, and is located inside El Valle’s El Nispero Zoo. They have an outstanding amphibian exhibit and additional housing for 40 golden frogs so far, and a total of 67 species on exhibit.
EVACC has found a way to save the frogs by washing them in a solution of the fungus, which helps rid them of the deadly toxin. All they need now is money to collect as many frogs as possible before it is too late.
The economic crisis has cut their budget almost in half, affecting their field work and population monitoring, which according to EVACC’s Edgardo, is “particularly serious” since field work is what tells experts the status of wild populations and the advance of the chytrid fungus.
According to Edgardo, it is hard to tell how many golden frogs are left in Panama, but based on the staff’s experience previous and post decline, what is left right now in the wild “could be less than 10 percent.”
In the worst case scenario, “there could be no more wild golden frogs 10 years from now,” he warns.
Edgardo said the cost of saving amphibians from this fungus varies depending on how many species and individuals per species you want to save. Around 40 individuals of one species could cost something around $50.000 the first year (which includes the cost of an outfitted shipping container instead of building a facility), after which the cost would be significantly lower.
At the moment, EVACC helps a total of 67 species, of which 15 are critically endangered, nine of which they are breeding.
Enter Yolanda. After a visit to EVACC, she fell in love with the tiny frogs and was disturbed to learn they are threatened with extinction by the deadly chytrid fungus, and decided to do something about it.
The Canadian artist, who attended Ontario College of Art and Ryerson University and is represented by a number of galleries near her hometown of Picton, in Prince Edward County, Ontario, produced the 'golden frog on an orchid' painting and donated the image to help raise funds to save the golden frog.
She then summoned the help of Rosa Azul Real Estate and Developments of El Valle, owned by her sponsor Rose Bourgeois (formerly of Toronto, Canada), who has agreed to pay for the first 500 t-shirts (in both men’s and women’s styles) to be printed with the painting’s image on the front.
A sneak preview of the t-shirts will be available at the charity karaoke party this Saturday at 8 p.m. at XoKo's Restaurant on the highway at Santa Clara, hosted by Robert Brown.
The shirts will also be available for purchase online at www.retirementdetectives.com for $19.95 each or 2 for $30 (shipping extra), with a proceeds going to EVACC