Chile celebrates successful breeding of endangered frog

Santiago (AFP) –


A critically endangered species of frog seems to have a bright future after conservationists in Chile launched a rescue campaign that has produced 200 offspring.

When the Loa frog was rescued from its natural habitat in northern Chile, there were only 14 individuals left.

Considered the most endangered species in Chile, they were taken to the zoo in the capital Santiago in August last year suffering from dehydration and on the brink of death.

Scientists had rescued them from a small canal in the northern city of Calama that had almost entirely dried up and where 600 frogs had already died.

"Today we have great news for the world's ecosystem," Housing and Urbanism Minister Felipe Ward said on Wednesday.

"We had to replicate the exact water conditions there are in the north of our country to keep them alive," added Alejandra Montalba, the director of the national zoo.

Measuring just six centimeters (2.3 inches) and with webbed hind legs, the Loa frog (Telmatobius dankoi) is a microendemic species that originates from wetlands close to the Loa River, which is the longest in Chile.

Located in the Atacama desert -- the most arid in the world -- the frog's natural habitat has suffered from human over-exploitation and more than a decade of drought in northern Chile.

The frog's plight is symptomatic of the environmental crisis facing the world with the loss of a million species, Chilean authorities warned last year.