In October and November, we visited the Illimani region for field work. Based in Totoral, a small village close to the type locality, we searched the whole region for frogs… and with success! We found Psychrophryenella specimens on several locations, including the type locality. We believe that all of these are P. illimani, but with tremendous variation in coloration.

Several males were vocalizing during day and night and we recorded calls from different localities. Multiple males were also found attending an egg clutch. This group of frogs has terrestrial eggs and direct development, meaning that the larval development takes place entirely inside the egg. These egg clutches were found under stones or in mosses, providing shelter. To see what effect this sheltering has and to get some basic understanding of the climatic variables in this species’ habitat, we placed some data loggers, collecting temperature and relative humidity every hour. We placed two of them below stones next to egg clutches, to compare these data with the outside environment.

While working in this region, we quickly found out that gold mining is the main source of income. During the process of gold extraction, the toxic mercury is used and subsequently dumped in the rivers, polluting the environment. We hope to do some testing of this in the near future.

Besides the threat of mining, we also had a look at habitat destruction and we swabbed several animals to look for chytrid fungus. If you don’t know about this, you can find some more information here (link).

In the next few months, we will be offering some workshops about conservation in the local communities and we will continue gathering data about this amazing species.

Below some pictures [(c) Bert Willaert] of our fieldwork.

BW3_ 6300the region

BW3_ 7390P. illimani inside wet mosses.

BW3_ 5956a male guarding an egg clutch

BW3_ 6228volunteer Gabi swabbing a frog for Chytrid

BW3_ 7193a beautiful, light colored P. illimani.

BW3_ 6117lunch during a day in the field

BW3_ 6125a datalogger placed with an egg clutch

BW3_ 7459extracted gold

BW3_ 7598another color morph of P. illimani.

BW3_ 6214habitat destruction

Conservation course

Earlier in October, we organized a conservation course for enthusiast environmental and biology students. Participants were mainly Bolivian, but also people from Argentina, Peru and Colombia participated. The full program resulted in a mix of theoretical and practical workshops on conservation of amphibians of the high Andes. We talked about field work, possibilities of molecular techniques, captive breeding, grant applications…

We did not encounter much frogs in the area, but during a field excursion we were lucky to observe the endemic and vulnerable  toad Psychrophrynella illampu.

Below you find some pictures of this event. We think and hope that this course was of great interest for these young conservationists.

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Project update

The official start of the project is coming near and we are busy with the last preparations. Within a few weeks we will visit the research area. Andrea has been attending the Conservation Leadership Course in Canada. During this course, a wide variety of conservation topics were discussed, going from planning and fundraising, to education and communication.

Andrea is very happy having been able to attend this workshop: “This course was a unique experience that combined teaching valuable information, skills and techniques with an amazing group atmosphere. I am sure that all the things I learned during the course will not only help to improve our current project, but it will also affect any further project and my personal life.”

Below you can see some pictures of this event.

Our course to be organized in the beginning of October is also a big success, with over a 100 applications received, clearly indicating that there is a wide interest in amphibian biology and conservation. We are now in the selection process and unfortunately are only able to select 15 participants. These will be notified in the next few weeks.

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You can now apply for the conservation course that will be held in the beginning of October in Bolivia. More information and an application form can be found here on the website. Deadline for applications is the 10th of July. We can already tell you that some very interesting people will join our team to make this an unforgettable course!

More information here.


Hi all,

welcome on our website about our conservation project dealing with the critically endangered frog Psychrophrynella illimani, endemic  to Bolivia. Here you can find some basic information on this project and we will regularly post updates on our activities and findings during our conservation efforts.

Best wishes,

Andrea, Arturo, Consuelo and Bert