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In May 2015 I submitted this letter on behalf of SAVE THE FROGS! members in California, across the USA and around the world, expressing our support for increasing the protections afforded to the Coast Dairies property in California, and specifically calling on politicians to designate the land as part a national monument, so as to ensure permanent protections for the property’s biodiversity.

On January 12th, 2017, President Barack Obama issued this proclamation declaring that Cotoni-Coast Dairies and important nearby areas are now included in the California Coastal National Monument, stating “The threatened California red-legged frog uses many of the waterways and water sources here, along with a wide range of other amphibians and reptiles.”

rana draytonii eggs
California Red-Legged Frog Egg Mass

Excerpts from President Obama’s proclamation:

“WHEREAS, it is in the public interest to preserve the objects of scientific and historic interest on the public lands of Trinidad Head, Waluplh-Lighthouse Ranch, Lost Coast Headlands, Cotoni-Coast Dairies, Piedras Blancas, and Orange County Rocks and Islands;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by section 320301 of title 54, United States Code, hereby proclaim the objects identified above that are situated upon lands and interests in lands owned or controlled by the Federal Government to be part of the California Coastal National Monument and, for the purpose of protecting those objects, reserve as part thereof all lands and interests in lands owned or controlled by the Federal Government within the boundaries described on the accompanying maps, which are attached hereto and form a part of this proclamation. The Orange County Rocks and Islands shall be managed as part of the original offshore area of the monument, and the remainder of the lands shall be known as the Trinidad Head, Waluplh-Lighthouse Ranch, Lost Coast Headlands, Cotoni-Coast Dairies, and Piedras Blancas units of the monument, respectively. These reserved Federal lands and interests in lands encompass approximately 6,230 acres. The boundaries described on the accompanying maps are confined to the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.

Warning is hereby given to all unauthorized persons not to appropriate, injure, destroy, or remove any feature of the monument and not to locate or settle upon any of the lands thereof.”

rana draytonii albino don alley
California Red-Legged Frogs (Rana draytonii) albino photo courtesy of Don Alley.

Grey Hayes, Ph.D. led the campaign to protect Cotoni-Coast Dairies and has also served as a facilitator in several amphibian workshops I have taken part in over the years. Grey said of SAVE THE FROGS’ involvement:

“SAVE THE FROGS! was important in informing the President about the importance of adding protection to specific sensitive natural resources on the property. These resources were not included in the Congressional proposal to designate the Monument, but our work together provided scientific documentation that enabled the President to justify including them in his designation. This included naming the California red-legged frog and other amphibians and reptiles as reasons for designating the area as a National Monument. The proclamation also requires that a management plan be prepared that protects those species before public access is allowed -- guaranteeing a balanced approach between access and preservation."

victory for the frogs amanda wilson
Frog art by from the SAVE THE FROGS! Art Contest by Amanda Wilson

 

To join SAVE THE FROGS! in Ecuador June 8th to 20th, 2017, please send an email to trip leader Chelsea Carson (chelsea@savethefrogs.com). We are looking forward to frogging the Andes and Amazon with you!

Introduction | Destinations | Meet Your Ecotour Leaders |
Trip itinerary | Prepare For Your Trip | Trip Cost | Contact

Mindo Glass Frogs
We found this beautiful glass frog in the Mindo cloud forests during the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour.

"We never would have imagined the powerful connections we made with both the group and the amazing country of Ecuador and it's beautiful people. We are forever grateful for your friendship. We are forever changed by our experiences. We will see both you and Ecuador again."
-- Kelly Geer, Participant of the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour

Introduction

Have you ever wanted to explore the Amazon rainforest, learn from experts about tropical ecology, or experience the beauty of the Andes mountains? How about all three? Well now is your chance to experience all of that and more! 

We are pleased to announce that the June 2017 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour will take place June 8th to 20th, 2017 and will encompass the Amazon rainforest, the Andes mountains, the cloud forests, dry forests, and an abundance of opportunities to find and photograph amphibians. 

Please send an email to trip leader Chelsea Carson at chelsea@savethefrogs.com if you are interested in joining SAVE THE FROGS! in Ecuador in June 2017 for an amazing 13 days (12 nights) adventure. In an effort to keep our group size small, we are limiting this ecotour to 14 participants.

"Hi Kerry, I'd like to go ahead and sign up for the Ecuador trip. The more I go back and read on the website, the more I realize it's a must-do trip. I'm really looking forward to it!
Thanks, John B., Pollock Pines, CA"

Frogging Ecuador
SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour Trip Leader Chelsea Carson and a beautiful glass frog juvenile near the Napo River, Ecuadorian Amazon.

Ecuador has an incredible array of biodiversity, cultures, landscapes and ecosystems, despite only being the size of Nevada. Ecuador is home to 552 known amphibian species (more than any country on the planet other than Brazil, Colombia and Peru) all within a very small geographical area. Ecuador actually has 58 times as many amphibian species per square mile than does the USA! That means there are lots of frogs to be found, making Ecuador a perfect place for a SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotour.

In October 2015, SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger and amphibian biologist Chelsea Carson traveled throughout Ecuador for nine days searching for ecolodges that are clean, comfortable and home to many frogs, and developing a detailed itinerary to maximize wildlife viewing opportunities in multiple ecosystems while minimizing drive times. Our inaugural SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour took place June 15-26th, 2016 and was a huge success that we are certain all of the participants and leaders will remember for the rest of their lives. We have optimized the tour to focus in on the absolute highlights and to maximize your enjoyment and delight while on your Ecuadorian frog adventure. The SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour has been personally crafted to ensure an amazing, unique and thoroughly unforgettable experience that offers the best in travel, wildlife, culture and education. 

In addition to a wealth of amphibians you can expect to see large quantities of other fascinating wildlife such as reptiles, butterflies, rare mammals, colorful insects, and an array of birds. Led by SAVE THE FROGS! South America Coordinator Chelsea Carson and SAVE THE FROGS! International Campaigns Coordinator Michael Starkey, and assisted by local Ecuadorian amphibian experts, we can assure you that your experience will be one of excitement, exploration, and growth. We hope you can join us in June 2017 for the one of a kind SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour!

mindo frogs
SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger photographed this beautiful frog on the grounds of Casa Divina in Mindo during the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour. We've made a few changes to this year's tour to provide you with the absolute best frogging expedition of your life.

"Good morning! I finally have access to wifi but I'm too exhilarated and exhausted to upload and post pics. I need time to process just the first few days! This is truly an epic adventure with an amazing group of people. One of the best decisions I ever made was saying yes to the SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador ecotour. My love for frogs have grown, my appreciation and respect of the earth has strengthened, and my awareness of the Ecuadorean people and culture has been a complement to my life. Thank you, Kerry Kriger and SAVE THE FROGS! for this opportunity. Okay, I'll leave you with one picture. This butterfly just freeing itself from its cocoon after transforming from one life to another is a symbol of me before and after this trip. I'm ready to fly."
- 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotourist & Author Deborah Blake Dempsey

mindo waterfalls
Waterfall in the Mindo cloud forest

Trip Overview
We will spend the first week adventuring through the Napo River area of the Amazon rainforest, learning about and discovering beautiful amphibian species, conservation efforts, and scientific investigation in the Amazon. We will meet and learn from Ecuadorian scientists and researchers who have in-depth amphibian experience in the Ecuadorian jungle. We will search for monkey frogs, rain frogs, poison dart frogs, and we may see endangered species only found in these locations. Salamander lovers: don’t be surprised if you come across a salamander hanging off a leaf or hiding under a log! Our group will have the opportunity toi hear presentations on amphibian conservation; go tubing on a tropical river; learn about ethnobotany; visit a wildlife rehabilitation center; and explore waterfalls, treetops, swamps, and breathtaking tropical ecosystems.

After traveling through the Amazon for five nights, we will make our way to the mid-elevation Andes at the beautiful Papallacta, famous for the thermal pools and surrounding mountain views. We will relax in the pools, eat great Ecuadorian food, hike along a mountain stream and learn about the paramo ecosystem, a significant change from the hot lowland Amazon.

After Papallacta, we will travel to the cloud forests of Mindo, a world-reknowned location famed for both its herpetofauna and its bird life. Mindo is an ecotourism success story as the forests would likely have been destroyed decades ago if the community had not come together to save the cloud forests and the biodiversity they contain, which was possible only by educating the community about the long-term benefits of ecotourism. In Mindo, you will have the opportunity to find glass frogs with a local Ecuadorian amphibian expert. In the mornings you will be able to find the famed Cock-of-the-Rock birds. In the afternoon, you can zipline above the canopy; search for poison dart frogs; or just relax at your cabin in the cloud forest.

After Mindo we will visit the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve and sleep on the crater rim. You will be able to practice yoga with mountain views, stand on the Equator, and learn about Ecuadorian customs and history. We will finish the ecotour in Quito, where you can shop in local markets, take a tour of the old city, or go for a hike in the Andes high above the city where you may be able to see Cotopaxi, an active volcano. Throughout the ecotour, you will learn all about amphibians and ways to save them, while spending time with like-minded SAVE THE FROGS! supporters!

With so many amazing places to know in one of the most amphibian biodiverse areas on the planet, we can assure you this will be a once in a lifetime experience, so don’t miss your chance to join the SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour June 8th to 20th, 2017.

"Hi Chelsea, I am getting caught up with emails and newsletters and was amazed to read about the SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador trip.  My husband and I have been talking about a trip to Ecuador for quite some time, and this tour is irresistible!
Regards,
Christine Grant
Cornwall, Ontario, Canada"

el pahuma ecuador
SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotourist Jessica Scrivener hiking through the cloudforest at El Pahuma, where we will spend an afternoon.

"Hello Dr. Kriger,
I am very interested in the trip to Ecuador! I am a kindergarten teacher at an expeditionary learning school in Lake Tahoe. Every spring for the last 4 years I teach my kindergarteners about frogs and how to save our local endangered frog species the Sierra Nevada yellow legged frog. I would love to expand my knowledge of frogs so I can teach my students from an even more informed perspective. How can I sign up?"
— Rosie S.

DESTINATIONS
We will visit a variety of Peruvian ecosystems and stay in very pleasant ecolodges and biological stations, detailed below.

Villa Da Fiore
The SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour officially begins at 6pm at Villa Da Fiore, a quaint Italian hacienda. Having housed SAVE THE FROGS! during our 2016 Ecuador Ecotour, the family owned business knows exactly how to make our group feel comfortable upon arrival into the country. We will spend one night here to have dinner, meet the group, and go over expectations and logistics for our tour. The stunning property is conveniently close to the airport and looks over the agricultural valley of Tumbaco.

villa da fiore

Suchipakari
The Suchipakari Jungle Lodge will provide you with an amazing introduction to the Ecuadorian Amazon. Suchipakari is located along the Pusuno River, a tributary of the Napo River, which eventually leads to the Amazon! The lodge is tucked away to provide a beautiful and secluded experience - we will need to walk about 15 minutes from the carpark to get to the lodge (we can assist you with your luggage!). Suchipakari sits in the middle of the lush green forests, wild jungle, and flowing rivers. We will stay at Suchipakari Jungle Lodge for three nights in their remodeled rooms and cabins, to offer you a luxury stay while also feeling close to nature. Due to high demand from our 2016 ecotour we have increased our stay here from two nights to three, in order to offer an even more diverse experience exploring rivers, waterfalls, jungle, and of course frogs! The lodge offers a pool, a beautiful dining area where the calls of frogs will make your dinner memorable, and many activities in and around the property. Chelsea will offer a yoga session in the gazebo area, where you can stretch, meditate and enjoy the sounds of the forest with a certified yoga instructor. Suchipakari is a favorite SAVE THE FROGS! location and we are sure you will enjoy your stay. 

suchipakari ecotour
The jungle stream at Suchipakari, our destination in the Amazon. Is it lush enough for you?

Anaconda Lodge
We are excited to announce that this year’s Ecuador Ecotour group will be staying for two nights at the unique Anaconda Lodge. Located on Anaconda Island in the heart of the rainforest, the Anaconda Lodge has much to offer. Anaconda Lodge is like nowhere else, not just based on its location - a half hour boat ride down the Napo River - but also its history and how it has integrated into the local community and supported the local people. We will tour a local village, have indigenous guides, and find a multitude of frogs on site. There is no more of an authentic stay within the Ecuadorian Amazon. 

anaconda lodge
Views from Anaconda Island, Ecuadorian Amazon

Papallacta
Papallacta is a luxurious getaway in the paramo ecosystem of the mid-altitude Andes. We will stop at Papallacta for a night, to rejuvenate in the famous thermal hot springs after five nights exploring the Amazon. You will have elegant cabins, delicious food, and 24-hour access to private mineral pools. Apart from its relaxing hot springs, we will be surrounded by the incredible Cayambe-Coca National Park. We will have the opportunity to hike and explore the high elevation ecosystem, as well listen to a presentation from a local park guide.

Papallacta Ecuador
These thermal pools will feel amazing after five nights in the Amazon!

"Perfect. Amazing."
-- Shenandoah Marr, 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotourist , while soaking in the Papallacta thermal pools

Casa Divina
To continue our frogging explorations our group will head to the town of Mindo. Located in the famous Ecuadorian cloud forest ecosystem, Mindo has a unique history of conservation, sustainable tourism, and species preservation. We will stay in Mindo for three nights at the Casa Divina Lodge, a natural lodge symbiotic with the local environment. The owners Molly and Efrain ensure not only a comfortable stay relaxing to the sounds and sights of nature, but also direct conservation by using local, organic ingredients, hiring native guides, and giving presentations to all visiting groups. There are hiking trails, lounging areas, beautiful accommodations, and plenty of wildlife sighting, including frogs near your cabin! We will also have the opportunity to explore different activities within the community of Mindo, such as zip lining, birding and learning how chocolate is made. 

Casa Divina Ecuador
Casa Divina: our home in the cloud forest for three nights

"This was the crown jewel of the trip in every way. Outstanding accommodations, wonderful setting, spectacular surrounding scenery, great little town, the absolute best staff, wonderful guides, great food and activities."
-- 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotourist Mike Horton on Casa Divina

El Crater
After three amazing nights at Casa Divina, we will stay one night at the beautiful and luxurious El Crater Hotel, located on the rim of the Pululahua Crater and Geobotanical Reserve. This spectacular site overlooks the reserve and has a breathtaking outdoor landscape to enjoy the natural surroundings and movement of clouds throughout the crater. We will get to visit the famous Mitad del Mundo (Center of the World) where you can stand in both hemispheres at once! 

el crater lodge
The El Crater Lodge is set high in the clouds above the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve.

"The lodges were generally nicer and more luxurious than I expected." 
-- SAVE THE FROGS! Board Member and 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotourist John Bohrman

Quito
We will spend our final night of the ecotour in the capital city of Quito. Participants will have the opportunity to take a walking tour of the Historical Center. Hikers can ride up the Teleferico (the world’s highest operating cable car) and take a hike high above the city; SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger enjoys this hike so much, he has done it three times! You can also shop in local artisanal markets to bring home souvenirs. We will conclude our tour with a delicious and traditional meal and say our goodbyes to new friends!

Quito frogs
It may be a major city, but Quito does have frogs! We found this frog calling below the Teleferico during the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour.

"It has been a wonderful trip of beautiful scenery, spectacular wildlife, new friendships, rich history, wonderful food, amazing experiences, and boundless new knowledge."
-- George Quiroga, Photographer & Participant on the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour

MEET YOUR ECOTOUR LEADERS
On top of being fun to travel with, your ecotour leaders have lots of experience in ecology, amphibian conservation, wilderness medicine, Peruvian travel, yoga instruction and an array of other skills that will ensure you the highest likelihood of having a safe, enjoyable and throughly unforgettable ecotour.

Chelsea Carson
SAVE THE FROGS! South America Coordinator

"Hello fellow SAVE THE FROGS! friends, my name is Chelsea Carson, and I am looking forward to being a Trip Leader on your SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour. I am a conservation biologist with a speciality in herpetology and community service outreach. I recently completed a Fulbright grant researching the effects of land uses on Ecuador's amphibian populations. Since I first visited South America in 2014 I have been in love with the ecosystems, culture, and wildlife. Originally coming to study ecology and conservation, I have focused on amphibian biology and have spent over a year and a half living in South America. With these experiences I have grown to respect and cherish the beautiful ecosystems that this continent has to offer.

I have volunteered for SAVE THE FROGS! since 2013, organizing and conducting a variety of events to increase the knowledge of local issues affecting amphibians. In June 2016 I co-led the inaugural SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour. For 12 days our group of 17 frog enthusiasts had an amazing time exploring the cloudforests, jungle, and Andes. In September 2017, I traveled through Ghana for 17 days as a member of the SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Expedition, educating university students and children about the value of amphibians and how to work with local communities to achieve conservation success. In November 2016, I led the inaugural SAVE THE FROGS! Peru Ecotour, taking our group to the Peruvian Amazon and cloud forests as well as Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.

I joined the SAVE THE FROGS! staff in November 2016 as the South America Coordinator and have been busy organizing new ecotours and coordinating the logistics to ensure our ecotour participants have a thoroughly amazing experience. I am excited to have your support and I look forward to finding frogs with you in Ecuador in June 2017!"

chelsea carson frogs
SAVE THE FROGS! South America Coordinator Chelsea Carson has been organizing and leading SAVE THE FROGS! events since 2013.

Michael Starkey
SAVE THE FROGS! International Campaigns Coordinator

Michael Starkey is an ecologist and environmental educator with significant experience searching for frogs and other animals deep in the rainforest. He began as a volunteer for SAVE THE FROGS! in 2010 focused on informing the public about the threats facing amphibians. Eventually joining SAVE THE FROGS! staff in a variety of roles, Michael rallies scientists, volunteers, and others to help broaden the conservation mission of SAVE THE FROGS! Michael has given presentations around the world to inform and help nurture a society that respects and appreciates nature and wildlife. Michael has organized and led three SAVE THE FROGS! Belize ecotours and joined the SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Expedition in September 2016. Michael will also be leading the SAVE THE FROGS! Costa Rica Ecotour in July 2017.

michael starkey ecotours
Michael Starkey has given presentations on amphibian conservation in the USA, Canada, Belize, Ghana and throughout Europe.

TRIP ITINERARY

Day 1: Arrival - Thursday June 8th, 2017
Ecotour participants are expected to arrive by 6pm at the Villa Da Fiore (about a half hour taxi ride from Quito’s UIO airport). We will start with an introduction to your tour leaders and fellow group members and discuss the logistics of what’s to be expected during the upcoming ecotour. We will share a wonderful Italian style dinner at the Villa Da Fiore restaurant and have the evening to connect with the group and prepare for the adventure to come!

south america expeditions
Villa Da Fiore is a perfect place to spend your first night in Ecuador!

Day 2: Descent to the Amazon - Friday June 9th, 2017
After a nice breakfast and enjoying the surroundings of the Villa, our group will board a private bus to make our way to the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Suchipakari Jungle Lodge. The drive, which in total is around four hours, will be split up by visiting archaeological sites, exploring caves, stopping for pictures through the Cayambe-Coca National Park, and to eat lunch! We will arrive at Suchipakari in the afternoon and settle into our new home for the next three nights. We then will go on a medicinal plant walk where a local guide will explain and show the flora used by local people. You can always decide to hang back and enjoy lounging by the pool, listening to frogs, and breathing in the pure Amazon air. We will have dinner as a group in the dining area and then put on our headlamps for our first night of frogging! We will explore the Suchipakari lodge area, where SAVE THE FROGS! has found over 10 species of frogs.

Ecuador Frogs
The frogs are easy to find at Suchipakari!

Day 3: AmaZOOnico - Saturday June 10th, 2017
After a delicious breakfast, we will have short presentations by your tour leaders Michael Starkey and Chelsea Carson. We will give you a background on amphibian conservation and SAVE THE FROGS! worldwide efforts on behalf of amphibians. We will head out on a canoe trip to the AmaZOOnico wildlife refuge down river. This scenic canoe ride will take you a half hour down the Rio Napo until reaching the secluded AmaZOOnico reserve. Here you will have the opportunity to see jungle fauna that you otherwise may not have the chance to see. We will learn about AmaZOOnico's efforts to conserve and protect the native wildlife. In 2016, our group came upon a large troop of squirrel monkeys. We will make our way back to the Suchipakari for lunch and relax after for a quick siesta. The afternoon activities will include the option to go river tubing, reading by the river, volleyball, bird watching, and exploring the many trails on site. We will meet for dinner at 7pm. This night we will be accompanied by a local guide and take a night hike into the jungle, so bring your headlamps and come prepared to see frogs! 

squirrel monkey Ecuador Ecotour
George Quiroga photographed this beautiful Squirrel Monkey at AmaZOOnico during the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour.

Day 4: Waterfall Hike - Sunday June 11th, 2017
You will want to eat a good breakfast before today's adventure! Our group will travel to a nearby waterfall and natural swimming pools. There are two options for the hike; easy and difficult. Both have the option of enjoying fresh Amazonian water to swim in. Lunch will be provided at the trail by local women employed by the lodge. After lunch we will have the opportunity to stop by a local Kiwcha home and greet native people who work and live off of the land. Here we will try traditional cuisine, observe handmade gifts, and see a day in the life of the Kiwcha community. We will return tired and happy and ready for a delicious meal that evening. We will be frogging along the river near the lodge tonight so pull up your rubber boots and keep an eye out for glass frogs guarding eggs or poison dart frogs in bromeliads!

Chelsea Carson Ecotours
Chelsea Carson observing the surroundings at Suchipakari in October 2015.

Day 5: Arrive at Anaconda Island - Monday June 12th, 2017
After breakfast, our group will have the choice to go on the Mirador (viewpoint) hike to get a bird's eye view of the area, or stay and enjoy the lodge and all that it has to offer. This is a strenuous hike but weaves you through pristine jungle ecosystem, ideal frog habitat, and peaks out to provide a stunning view of the Amazon Basin. You will have time to pack up before eating lunch at 1pm. We will then board the bus and travel a short distance to the river port to meet our water taxis to the Anaconda Lodge. Upon arrival at the Anaconda Lodge we will settle into the authentic experience by listening to the lodge's history through a presentation by the owner Fernando. We will have the opportunity to partake in some river activities like tubing and canoe rides to see the spectacular new surroundings. Dinner will be served at the lodge’s main dining area. Anaconda Lodge is known for its fresh, local ingredients, and incredible meals, as well as unforgettable sunsets. After dinner we will go exploring on a night walk! Here we are sure to encounter a variety of frogs, reptiles, birds, and possibly mammals!

napo river
SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger and Chelsea Carson visited the Anaconda Lodge in October 2015. You will be traveling down the Napo River in a boat like this for a half hour to arrive at the lodge!

"Thank you for the frogging trip of a lifetime to Ecuador, Kerry and Chelsea!!"
- SAVE THE FROGS! Board Member Choti Singh, who has participated in SAVE THE FROGS! belize and Ecuador Ecotours

Day 6: Final Full Day in The Amazon - Tuesday June 13th, 2017
We will awake to the sounds of birds and look over the Arajuno river as the sun rises against our backs. There is a beautiful lookout area which offers expansive views of the rivers and wildlife near the dining area. Keep an eye out for local fisherman preparing for the day's catch. The day will consist of adventures around the lodge and the neighboring Kiwcha community. Anaconda Lodge works closely with the local people and has created a chocolate cooperative. We will have a chance to meet the harvesters and producers and learn how cacao becomes the chocolate we eat!
We will return back to the lodge for both lunch and dinner throughout the day's activities and there will be plenty of opportunity to sit and enjoy nature. We ask you to join us this night as we go out for the last excursion frogging in the Amazon! We will have our senses ready to observe as many creatures as possible. 

anaconda island lizard
A lizard on Anaconda Island

"I didn't expect to be with such a great group of adventurers and make the connections with everyone that I did which will lead to life-long friendships."
-- SAVE THE FROGS! 2016 Ecuador Ecotourist Jessica Scrivener

Day 7: Thermal Pools at Papllacta - Wednesday June 14th, 2017
Enjoy a relaxing morning walking through the lodge's trail system and join us for a series of presentations and workshops given by Michael and Chelsea. You will have the opportunity to learn about amphibians and ecology, take a Spanish language lesson, and do yoga. We will then pack up and have our last meal at the Anaconda Lodge. After lunch, we will head uphill into the Andes and to the soothing waters of Papallacta. The trip will take around 3 hours and will bring us to a luxurious stay in private cabins and thermal pools. Our group will unwind and clean up from 5 nights in the Amazon and enjoy an elegant twist on local cuisine at the restaurant on site. Spend as much time as you would like this evening bathing in the many hot pools around the property.

Thermal Pools Ecuador
Thermal Pools at Papallacta

Day 8: Enter The Mindo Cloud Forest - Thursday June 15th, 2017
We will wake up for an 8am breakfast and then meet in the Papallacta nature center for an hour of presentations and a guided hike. Our local guide Patricio will give a speech about this unique ecosystem and lead us on a tour through the cloudforest. After the hike you have the option of taking a final dip in the pools or going further around the native environment. We will have lunch in Papallacta at a local restaurant and then all board the bus to Mindo. Make sure to observe the scenery during the bus ride as we descend from high alpine Andes into the verdant cloud forests of Mindo. Upon arrival at Casa Divina in Mindo you will have the option to wander the grounds, where there is a butterfly garden, or participate in a Spanish lesson given by Chelsea. Dinner will be at Casa Divina. Afterwards, prepare yourself for a night of frogging to bring a close to an adventurous day!

mindo mountains on road to mindo
Andes Scenery Near Mindo

Day 9: Exploring Mindo - Friday June 16th, 2017
Mindo is an incredible place for birding. Early risers can head out at 5am for the rare opportunity of viewing the Cock-of-the-Rock lek. Breakfast will be at 8am followed by a morning filled with optional classes. Michael and Chelsea will be giving a plethora of courses this morning including wilderness medicine, Spanish, and yoga. We will then break for lunch with our new skills fresh in our minds. Afterwards there will be the option for exploration around Mindo or a rest at the peaceful lodge. You can walk to the Butterfly Farm and enjoy an encounter with these graceful creatures or take a cable car ride across the cloud forest to a waterfall hike. Take your time with these activities and relax upon returning to the lodge or participate in a guided meditation class with Chelsea. Dinner will be at Casa Divina and then frogging will begin at 730pm with a local frog expert!

Frogging Expedition Ecuador
SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger found these beautiful Pristimantis frogs in amplexus at Casa Divina.

Day 10: Final night of Frogging Ecuador! - Saturday June 17th, 2017 :  
We will awake to the sounds of singing birds and the sight of light being shed over the forests and then have another adventurous and ecologically packed day. Morning activities will start around 9am with the option to swing among the canopy on a zipline tour or hike to a beautiful waterfall. After indulging in the outdoors we will all meet for lunch in the town of Mindo at a local restaurant. Here you will be able to sample the favorite local dishes and get to know the people of the town. After lunch you will have the opportunity to stick around town, pass through the local shops, explore the Orchid Garden, or have a chocolate tour with plenty of samples! Regardless of how you choose to spend your last afternoon in the land of clouds we will meet back at Casa Divina at 5pm for amphibian education and information on volunteering for SAVE THE FROGS!. Dinner will be at 7pm followed by another locally guided night hike to search for our frog friends!

Epidobates darwinwallacea
SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry kriger photographed this poison dart frog (Epidobates darwinwallacea) during the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour.

Day 11: The Middle of The World - Sunday June 18th, 2017
After a delicious breakfast surrounded by the lively cloud forest ecosystem we will say our goodbyes to Mindo and Casa Divina and head to the Middle of the World. We will settle into our lodging for the night at the beautiful El Crater Lodge and then head to the world famous Mitad del Mundo monument. We will all eat at an authentic restaurant inside the museum grounds and then you will have the opportunity to explore and take pictures on both sides of the hemisphere. Chelsea will offer a yoga class in the early evening on El Crater's spectacular grounds. Our group will gather for an informal presentation in the dining area to discuss a few of Ecuador's ecosystems we did not have the chance to visit...this time! Dinner will follow the discussion and you have the freedom to spend the night however you wish.

mitad del mundo
Beautiful artwork at Mitad del Mundo (The Middle Of The World).

Day 12:  - Monday June 19th, 2017
After eating breakfast at El Crater and enjoying the breathtaking views of the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve, you may join Chelsea and Michael on an informative hike down into the crater and around the reserve. We will all be packed and ready to leave for Quito at 11:30 to make it into the city for lunch. We will then head back to our hotel and drop off our belongings and the group will split into two groups. One option is to take a tour of the Historical City and shop the local artisan markets; the other is to ride up the Teleferico high above the city and and receive a beautiful view overlooking the whole capital city, with the option to hike the slopes of Rucu Pichincha, an extinct volcano. The afternoon and early evening is yours to spend as you please and we will meet in the hotel lobby at 7:15 to walk to our final meal together! The group will have a wonderful dinner with local cuisine and tradition with the option to go salsa dancing that night! 

Hiking Ecuador
If the weather is clear you may see Cotopaxi (5,897m) from the top of the Teleferico!

Day 13:  - Tuesday June 20th, 2017
Enjoy your final breakfast of the ecotour at our Quito hotel. We can help you arrange transportation to the airport. We will say our goodbyes as everyone departs to return to their homes or continues on their travels. We will leave with wonderful memories and full hearts after another incredible SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotour!

teleferiqo quito
Views from the Teleferico, high above Quito.

PREPARE FOR YOUR TRIP
Traveling in Ecuador may be a different experience than what you are accustomed to, so we have written a few things we would love to pass along!

Physical Fitness
Most of our hikes will be easy to moderate. Expect guided hikes to last 2-3 hours. We will travel slowly on the trails so that we will have a better chance of viewing wildlife. It is important to know that the trails may be slippery and muddy, so having good footing and closed-toes shoes are essential! Adventurous explorers will have the option to take more strenuous hikes. While we do have scheduled activities planned for you, there will be times where you will have the choice of how to spend your time. Would you prefer to go on a morning jungle hike or bird watch from a hammock on your balcony? The choice is yours! Wear sunblock and stay hydrated. Quito and the Teleferico are located at high altitudes and close to the equator. While this is exciting, it comes with a few cautions: in particular, the sun is strong and the air is thin! Make sure to hydrate, wear sun protection, and get plenty of rest.

teleferico mikeh jessicas kka 
SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger with STF! Board Member Mike Horton and bat biologist Jessica Scrivener at the highest point of the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour.

Altitude
The highest you will have to be on this ecotour is in Papallacta, which is at 3,300 m (10,827 ft), though you will have the option to go above 3,945m (12,943 ft) atop the Teleferico. Stay aware of how you feel and stick within your comfort level while hiking and participating in active adventures. You will always be able to opt out of a hike and just chill out looking at the surrounding mountains! Chelsea is a certified Wilderness First Responder and Michael is certified in Wilderness First Aid. They will have resources and advice if you feel any of the effects of altitude sickness.

teleferico cotopaxi
Quito and Cotopaxi from the trails above the Teleferico

"Thank you all - Kerry, Chelsea, Emily and Kathlyn - for being awesome, knowledgeable, and fun trip leaders. YOU are what made this trip an epic experience. May you each continue to follow your dreams and experience you deepest heart's desires."
-- SAVE THE FROGS! Eciuador Ecotourist Deborah Blake Dempsey

Planning to explore Ecuador before or after the Ecotour?
There is plenty to do in Ecuador so if you have extra time to enjoy the country, we are happy to advise you on hotel lodging and recommended locations. Please contact Chelsea Carson with your possible schedule if you seek travel advice: chelsea@savethefrogs.com

Ecotour Ecuador
A golden mushroom in the Amazon jungle

Currency
Ecuadorian currency is called the UNITED STATES DOLLAR! That's right, you can use dollars throughout Ecuador. It is wise to have cash and a major credit card or two on you, lest you want or need to purchase something not included in the Ecotour. There are currency exchange companies in Ecuador, or withdrawing from an ATM is a good option as well (be sure to inform your bank you will be in Ecuador).

Ecuador Ecotours
A monkey near Misahualli, banks of the Napo River, Ecuadorian Amazon

Crime Prevention
While we will be traveling in a group and the risk of experiencing crime is low, please be aware that Ecuador, specifically within the cities, has had issues with crime. Usually it is petty theft, but it is commonly aimed at tourists so take safety measures when walking about. We recommend leaving all valuable items in a safe at the hotel and only carrying what you need. A money belt inside your clothing and/or an over the shoulders bag (not an easily snatched purse) is also a good option for carrying necessary items.

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In the clouds at the Pululaua Geobotanical Reserve during the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour.

Visa requirements
No visa is required for citizens of the United States. If you are not a United States citizen, then please check your country's laws about traveling to Peru.

Frogging Amazon
You know the frogging is going to be good when you see this! 

Passport requirements
Your passport must be valid for at least six months past the date you plan to depart Ecuador or you will not be allowed into the country. So please ensure your passport does not expire within six months of your departure date!

Dietary preferences
The SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotour to Ecuador can accommodate most dietary preferences and/or requirements, including vegan and vegetarian. We will sample an array of Ecuadorian culinary delights. Please inform us in advance of any dietary needs, in as much detail as possible. When possible please also take into account that you will be traveling in a foreign country somewhat unaccustomed to certain dietary restrictions, so although we will do our best to accommodate everyone please be flexible if it allows.

Water and Food
While Ecuador has decent water filtration we recommend not risking drinking the tap water during your time here. This also goes for the street food, and make sure to watch out for juices, unpeeled fruit, uncooked vegetables etc that may have been washed in the water. Most of the lodges and hotels we stay at will have large jugs of drinkable water and are used to catering to tourists. We do recommend traveling with some type of filtration device (e.g. PUR filters or Steripen UV light) unless you are the type of person who likes buying plastic bottles of water!

"Overall the food was spectacular."
-- 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotoursit Mike Horton

ecuadorian cuisine
Dessert at Casa Divina

Vaccinations & Medication
Check the Center for Disease Control's Ecuador webpage for specific information about what vaccinations or medications you may need, and ask your doctor. All participants should be up-to-date with all routine vaccinations before traveling abroad. Malaria is present within Ecuador but is not a huge threat. However if you would like to get malaria medicine please follow your doctor's instructions. You will not easily be able to find malaria medication once in Ecuador.

suchipakari mossy frog 1
We found this beautiful camouflaged frog at Suchipakari.

Patience
Latin American time is slower than US time! While we have worked very hard to avoid any delays or alterations in the schedule, in Latin America sometimes there are delays and changes. This only means to remain patient and remember to just enjoy your surroundings! We are going to be in some of the most amazing tropical ecosystems in the world, so if any changes in timing happens, rest assured the scenery will be worth it.

Alcohol
Looking for frogs at night is not the world's safest activity. As such, drinking and frogging really don't mix. We request that you not get anywhere remotely close to drunk prior to frogging. If you do feel the need for a dinnertime alcoholic beverage, we strongly suggest limiting it to one drink. Post-frogging, feel free to let loose at the bar.

Professional Development for Students and Teachers
Teachers seeking to fulfill professional development or continuing education requirements may be able to claim this trip as a tax-deduction (ask your tax professional for details). Please let us know if you have any questions. Students seeking to receive university credit may be able to acquire credit through your university's internship program; if you are interested in this option, please contact us. Students wishing to receive SAVE THE FROGS! Academy credit as part of this expedition should also contact us.

What To Bring
This list will help your trip planning (we will send you a more detailed version once you confirm your participation):
• Field Clothes
• Headlamp
• Swim suit
• Walking shoes
• A rain jacket and rain pants
• Warm layers (Papallacta is cold at night)
• A water bottle
• Camera
• A notebook and pen
• Comfortable clothes for travel and yoga
• A nice outfit for dinner in Quito
• A smile and willingness for adventure!

ecuadorian dessert.jpg
You will eat fabulous food during the ecotour!

"Thanks so much Kerry Kriger and Chelsea Carson for setting up an ecotour that I couldn't say no to and that I'll never forget!!! This has been the best month of my life! :) My heart is so full from this trip! I'm anxious and sad about going back home. But I'm also very inspired and excited about what the future may hold for myself and SAVE THE FROGS!. I look forward to helping the frogs by helping you guys in any way that I can."
- Jessica Scrivener, 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotourist

TRIP COST

The June 2017 SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour pricing is as follows: 
- Ecotour for one person: $3,295
- Ecotour for a party of two: $6,440
- Ecotour for a group of three: $9,585
- Ecotour for a group of four: $12,680
- Full-time students save an additional $100

- Full-time teachers save an additional $100
- Save $35 per person if you pay by check or money order

- All participants must be active SAVE THE FROGS! Members (free memberships will be announced very soon).

Included with your ecotour payment is all lodging, in-country transportation, world-class tour guides and their scientific expertise, park entrance fees, tips, and all meals. You are required to cover your costs of airfare, snacks, alcoholic beverages, souvenirs, and possibly a departure tax when you leave the country. Note again that you will be required to pay your own airfare to Ecuador (estimated at $750 roundtrip from the USA).

To secure your space on the ecotour you will need to send us a $1,000 per person non-refundable deposit via check or credit card. Full payment is due by April 8th, 2017. Failure to pay in full by April 8th, 2017 may result in forfeiture of your deposit money and your space on the eco-tour.

All proceeds support SAVE THE FROGS! worldwide amphibian conservation efforts, enabling us to protect amphibians and promote a society that respects and appreciates wildlife and nature. A portion of these proceeds will go directly to our ongoing South American conservation efforts.

mindo casa divina lunchtime.jpg
Lunchtime at Casa Divina in Mindo.

Register for the SAVE THE FROGS! Ecuador Ecotour
If you are interested in this trip, please email Chelsea Carson at chelsea@savethefrogs.com so we can get you registered for this amazing adventure!

suchipakari Ecuador
The Suchipakari lodge area comes alive with frogs at night. Enjoy the pool during the day or relax in the covered area.

The waiver you will sign
In order to take part on this trip, you will be required to sign a waiver acknowledging the inherent risks of ecotourism in Ecotour, and legally releasing SAVE THE FROGS! and affiliated trip operators and personnel from legal damages and consequences. Please do not apply unless you understand this and the implications. That being said, we strive for a safe trip!

Backpacking Ecuador
The view from El Crater Lodge


Cancellations and Refunds
You must notify us directly if you need to cancel your trip. If you need to cancel your trip, contact Chelsea Carson at: chelsea@savethefrogs.com

-- If you cancel before May 8th, 2017 your entire trip will be refunded, minus your deposit (as deposits are non-refundable).
-- If you cancel after May 8th, 2017 you forfeit your entire trip fee.

SAVE THE FROGS! regrets that it cannot make exceptions to the reservation and cancellation policy for any reason, including personal emergencies. The reservation and cancellation policy applies to all reservations. You may want to consider purchasing travel insurance from a third party, so that if an issue arises (such as health or family concerns or airline issues), then your travel insurance could likely provide you compensation.

el crater lodge
The dining area at El Crater Lodge, on the crater rim of the Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve

Not just a frogging tour!
While frogs will certainly be the focus of our SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotour, we will have opportunities for:

- Amazon jungle experiences
- Hiking
- Frogging
- Yoga
- Spanish Lessons
- Wilderness Medicine Classes
- Shopping at local markets
- Amazon canoe ride
- Swimming
- Tasting exquisite Ecuadorian cuisine

With a group of SAVE THE FROGS! participants and your dedicated tour leaders there will be lots of smiles, laughs, and learning going around. We hope to see you in November 2016 for this once in a lifetime experience!

Yoga Ecuador
Chelsea Carson leads a SAVE THE FROGS! Yoga Session at El Crater Lodge.

"Just finished an incredible yoga session led by Chelsea Carson with my new #savethefrogs friends on the rim of an extinct volcano, high up in the clouds, near the Equator line dividing the Northern and Southern hemispheres of the Earth surrounded by the beautiful Equadorian landscape. Then listened to our group leader Kerry Kriger play the bamboo flute while we soaked in the energy of the Earth.
— George Quiroga

Group Size

To keep our group small, we are limiting this ecotour to a total of 14 participants. There will also be two SAVE THE FROGS! Tour Leaders and at times a local Ecuadorian amphibian expert, making for a grand total of 17.

Arriving in Ecuador
The ecotour begins in Tumbaco, Ecuador (on the outskirts of Quito) the evening June 8th, 2017 at 6pm. We will stay in Tumbaco that night and we will head to the Amazon the following day. We recommend arriving in Quito's UIO airport anytime on June 8th - or to be extra safe regarding plane delays you could even arrive a day early. If you plan to arrive early, please ask Chelsea for suggestions on lodging and things to do.

Ecuador Guided Tours
Lodging at Suchipakari

Speaking Spanish
Trip Leader Chelsea Carson speaks Spanish and thus you will be fine without thorough Spanish knowledge. That being said you will likely be able to connect with local people more easily if you speak Spanish. We will offer some Spanish lessons during the Ecotour and encourage you to ask us how to say words or phrases you want to know. In this day and age there is a wealth of free language learning materials online, so regardless of how old you are or how competent with acquiring new languages you think you are, you CAN learn Spanish. Three great iPhone apps for learning Spanish are iTranslate, DuoLingo and iTranslate Voice.

mindo casa divina
Casa Divina has very comfortable rooms!

Ecuador: a perfect place for a SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotour
With so many amphibians and such a depth of culture, Ecuador is a perfect place for SAVE THE FROGS! conservation and ecotour activities. We will be sharing our amphibian knowledge and passion to the local ecosystems and people and we cannot wait to have you join us on the tour. We look forward to seeing you in Ecuador in June 2017!

pristimantis ecuador
Pristimatis, Ecuadorian Amazon

Contact
Please email Chelsea Carson (chelsea@savethefrogs.com) or Michael Starkey (starkey@savethefrogs.com) with any questions and to inform of us of your interest in joining us in Ecuador.

WE HOPE TO SEE YOU IN ECUADOR!

suchipakari

On December 7th, 2016, SAVE THE FROGS! and the Center for Biological Diversity submitted a petition to the California Fish & Game Commission (FGC) calling on the state to ban the importation of live American Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) by adding the species to the state’s list of restricted animals. The addition would help prevent future introductions of bullfrogs, which in California are a non-native, invasive amphibian.

Download the petition here.

bullfrog importation
Photo of American Bullfrog courtesy Jock Branson

Bullfrogs prey upon and compete with California's native wildlife, and play a role in the spread of disease. The American Bullfrog is included in the Global Invasive Species Database’s list of “One Hundred of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species.” In 1997 the European Union banned the importation of live American bullfrogs due to their invasiveness, yet about 2 million live bullfrogs are currently imported into California every year. The California Department of Fish & Wildlife issued a 2014 report "Implications of Importing American Bullfrogs into California" that clearly demonstrates the threat caused to California's native wildlife by American Bullfrogs.

“Bullfrogs have already inflicted significant damage on California's wildlife populations, including many that are threatened with extinction,” said Jenny Loda, a biologist and attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Every new shipment of live bullfrogs into California presents the threat of further introductions of this highly invasive frog. We simply can't take the risk.”

rana catesbeiana american bullfrog

An animal can be added to the “restricted animals” list by the FGC when it “is proven to be undesirable and a menace to native wildlife.” The FGC has previously used its authority to restrict live imports of other non-native, invasive animals that pose similar threats as bullfrogs, including carp, water snakes and some species of abalone.

SAVE THE FROGS! has been campaigning for an end to live bullfrog importations into California since May of 2010, when SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger spoke at a Fish & Game Commission hearing on the topic. At that hearing, the Commission voted to disallow the importation of live non-native frogs and turtles into the state, but the Department of Fish & Wildlife never abided by the Commission’s instructions, resulting in over ten million additional American Bullfrogs entering the state due to the Department's failure to act on behalf of native wildlife. Our current petition will hold more legal force if it is successful.

san francisco bullfrogs market
Live American Bullfrogs piled high in a San Francisco market. Photo by Michael Starkey.

"It's about time. Back in the 1990's the population of tree frogs and reg-legged frogs were completely depleted from south Napa in the town of Napa, CA. This was in the creek at Old Sonoma Road next to a school building. The tree frogs used to be so loud at night and then one year we had flooding, we got bullfrogs swimming over the dam into the creek, and that was the end of the native frogs. I personally love bullfrogs as long as they are native to an area, such as Vermont. They are very beautiful. However importing them to sell in open markets is cruel and disgusting. I feel really sorry for them."
-- Louise Salant

California Red-Legged Frogs (Rana draytonii) were once abundant in California, but their numbers declined drastically in the mid-1800’s when gold miners began eating them in large quantities and their mining activities eroded hillsides and polluted the water bodies the frogs rely on. Modern day Californians negatively impact California Red-Legged Frogs by destroying the frogs’ habitats for homes, roads, timber, golf courses and shopping centers. To make matters worse, over two million live non-native American Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) are imported into the state each year for use as food, and the bullfrogs are voracious predators of California Red-Legged Frogs.

There is hope for the red-legged frogs however: in 2014, SAVE THE FROGS! led a successful campaign to make the California Red-Legged Frog the state’s official amphibian, and we initiated our efforts to Re-Frog America by constructing wetlands for these and other threatened amphibians.

rana draytonii california red legged frog
California's official state amphibian, the California Red-Legged Frog (Rana draytonii)

California Red-Legged Frogs had not been known to breed in the Eldorado National Forest for many years, but one lake that borders the forest (Lake Of The Cross) was being used successfully by the frogs for breeding. As such, the Eldorado Forest Service contacted Tom Biebighauser of the Center for Wetland and Stream Restoration for his assistance in creating wetlands on the Forest Service property.

In October 2014, SAVE THE FROGS! biologists Dr. Kerry Kriger, Kathlyn Franco and Emily Moskal joined Tom, the U.S. Forest Service and the American River Conservancy as well as biologists from several other state and federal agencies, and together we created nine wetlands for California Red-Legged Frogs over the course of a week. Prior to construction, various people had stated that these wetlands would not function; however, despite a severe drought, seven of the wetlands naturally filled with water, and followup surveys found California Red-Legged Frogs using the new habitats! Our wetlands are assisting an iconic and federally-listed amphibian - this is a huge success!

wetland consruction
Left to right: Kathlyn Franco, Dr. Kerry Kriger, Tom Biebighauser, Emily Moskal (October 2014)

In October 2016, SAVE THE FROGS!, the U.S. Forest Service, the American River Conservancy and Tom Biebighauser returned to Eldorado National Forest to conduct more surveys and to build more wetlands. SAVE THE FROGS! invited volunteers, as one of our prime objectives is to train biologists and landowners how to build wetlands.

eldorado wetlands surveys
SAVE THE FROGS! volunteers surveying a wetland we helped build in 2014.

red legged frog pond
In October 2016, SAVE THE FROGS! volunteers saw California Red-Legged Frogs using these wetlands that we built in 2014.

save the frogs wetland restoration
Thanks to the Amphibian & Reptile Conservancy for their financial assistance with the 2014 wetlands.

On October 3rd and 4th, 2016, SAVE THE FROGS! and our partners created two new wetlands for the California Red-Legged Frogs - and they have been successful. Maura Santora (US Forest Service Aquatic Biologist) informed us that one month after the construction, red-legged frogs were found using both of the ponds!

build frog pond
Taking an elevation reading as an excavator shapes the new wetland

wetland construction
The wetland crew installing a pesticide-free liner in Eldorado National Forest, October 2016.

save the frogs wetland workshopfrog ponds
Covering the pesticide free liner with geotextile to protect it.

Here's what SAVE THE FROGS! Volunteer Mindy Meadows (who flew in from Tennessee) wrote to SAVE THE FROGS! Wetland Coordinator Kathlyn Franco after the construction event:

“It was such an amazing experience! Not only did I get to meet you and learn from you but also Leslie, Emily, Tom, Maura, Neil…so many wonderful people with so much knowledge! We learned things we didn’t even expect….like fixing the equipment road after the wetland was built. Thank you SO much for making it all happen and for saving the frogs!!”

wetland restoration
We covered the liner with soil and branches so amphibians can hide and attach egg masses.

Here is an exceptionally cool video of the entire October 3rd, 2016 wetland being built…and condensed into three-minutes:

These wetland projects are vastly important. We have successfully created wetlands that are being used by federally threatened frogs, giving them increased chance of survival, even as their habitats elsewhere are being degraded. More wetlands like these will enable their populations to rebound.

We look forward to sharing more success stories like this! If you agree that Re-Frogging America by building wetlands for threatened amphibians is important, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to SAVE THE FROGS!. In 2017, SAVE THE FROGS! Wetland Coordinator Kathlyn Franco is planning to lead the construction of seven new wetlands - and your financial support will make them possible.

If you are interested in learning how to build wetlands, please fill out this short form so we can keep you updated when we announce new wetland construction events or release new training materials:

kathlyn franco wetlands
SAVE THE FROGS! Wetland Coordinator Kathlyn Franco inspecting one of the Eldorado wetlands she helped construct in 2014.

A huge thank you to LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics and Norcross Wildlife Foundation for contributing financially to SAVE THE FROGS! wetland efforts.

Frogs in the genus Arthroleptis are often referred to as "squeakers." This is because of the distinctive insect-like call they make and are also called cricket or screeching frogs. They are usually small, most about the size of a baby’s thumb, with the smallest squeaker measuring merely 15mm in length. The Giant Squeaker Frog (Arthroleptis krokosua) measures up to 50mm, making it the largest squeaker in the whole of West Africa. As it is about three times the size of the smallest squeaker it must be nothing less than a “GIANT.”  The Giant Squeaker Frog mainly differs from other squeakers in its much broader head. Their color can vary but most of them are golden brown, making the Giant Squeaker Frog possibly the world’s most beautiful squeaker. Unlike other squeakers they also have a distinctive “hour-glass pattern” on their back and rounded black spots on their belly. But as far as their reproduction is concerned, they are presumed to be like all other squeakers: they are among the few frogs in the world that are direct developers, meaning they bypass the tadpole stage! They lay their eggs on leaf-litter, which then hatch directly into baby frogs called froglets that resemble their parents in every way except for their tiny size. But mind you, a baby Giant Squeaker Frog may be about the same size or even bigger than the adults of some other squeakers. Again, it is the simple reason the Giant Squeaker Frog is “GIANT’.

To win wonderful souvenirs from SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana answer questions about this article by following the link.
ghana-goal-squeaker

ghana-goal

SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana’s Associate Executive Director and West Africa’s first female amphibian conservation scientist, Miss Sandra Owusu-Gyamfi will travel to the United Kingdom from 20th December 2016 to 10th January 2017. During her stay, Sandra will give educational presentations about amphibians, empower women in conservation and the activities of SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana. Spend the season with Sandra to learn some of SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana’s great achievements such as winning awards including the prestigious Green Oscar from the Whitley Fund for Nature; new frog discoveries; establishing West Africa’s first amphibian education centre; replanting 20-ha of critical amphibian habitats with +15,000 native trees; providing beekeeping as alternative livelihood for local people; gaining international media attention and many more. Sandra will also be visiting funders including the Rufford Foundation and the Whitley Fund for Nature to update them on how their funded projects are progressing.

sui celebration sandra owusu gyamfi 1a ms

You can take this opportunity to invite Sandra over to your local school or group for a presentation or discussion on possible collaborations and volunteering with West Africa’s leading amphibian research and conservation organisation. Please send an email of interest to contact@savethefrogs.com for an advance booking.

Kumbugu Group

In 2014 Sandra travelled to the UK and presented to about 500 individuals at institutions and groups such as the University of Cambridge, Nottingham and Greenwich, the British Herpetology Society and the Harrison Institute (www.savethefrogs2.com/easyblog/save-the-frogs-ghana-programmes-co-ordinator-s-visit-to-uk-makes-huge-waves). Sandra uses such visits to inspire and give hope to scientists and conservationists which she believes is key in addressing many conservation challenges.

The inaugural SAVE THE FROGS! Peru Ecotour took place in November 2016 and was a huge success! We will let you PERUse through the photos below and decide for yourself whether all the lucky participants had a fabulous time frogging the Andes and Amazon and visiting incredible Incan sites like Machu Picchu. If you're interested in joining a future SAVE THE FROGS! Peru Ecotour and experiencing the wonders of Peru with like-minded frog enthusiasts, please email us at contact@savethefrogs.com so we can keep you posted as future ecotours are announced!

Photos from ecotour participant Katie O'Donnell:
frog-great-1-katie-odonnellmachu-picchu-group-1-katie-odonnellfrog-1-katie-odonnellcusco-group-3-katie-odonnellcaiman-10-katie-odonnellbirds-1-katie-odonnellfrog-4-katie-odonnellfrog-2-katie-odonnellfrog-3-katie-odonnellfrog-5-katie-odonnellfrog-6-katie-odonnellfrog-9-katie-odonnellfrog-11-katie-odonnellfrog-13-katie-odonnellfrog-17-katie-odonnellfrog-18-katie-odonnellfrog-21-katie-odonnellcusco-group-square-katie-odonnellcusco-music-group-katie-odonnellfrog-great-2-katie-odonnellmachu-picchu-flying-katie-odonnellmachu-picchu-group-2-katie-odonnellmachu-picchu-group-huayna-picchumachu-picchu-smiles-katie-odonnellmachu-pichu-group-flying--katie-odonnellmanu-group-katie-odonnellninamarca-2-katie-odonnellninamarca-1-katie-odonnellsacred-valley-1-katie-odonnellsalamander-bolitoglossa-katie-odonnellsnake-1-katie-odonnellsnake-2-katie-odonnellsnake-6-katie-odonnellstars-katie-odonnellvilla-carmen-4-katie-odonnellvilla-carmen-7-katie-odonnellvilla-carmen-8-katie-odonnellvilla-carmen-9-katie-odonnellvilla-carmen-avion-group-katie-odonnellvilla-carmen-chelsea-katie-odonnellvilla-carmen-leonidas-katie-odonnellvilla-carmen-overlook-2-katie-odonnellvilla-carmen-overlook-katie-odonnellwaterfall-manu-katie-odonnellwayqecha-eric-canopy-katie-odonnellwayqecha-group-katie-odonnellwayqecha-kosnipata-2-katie-odonnellwayqecha-kosnipata-katie-odonnellwayqecha-talk-katie-odonnell

"Dear Kerry, thanks to you and Chelsea and Joanna and Tin. The Peru trip was wonderful. We saw so much and were treated with such kindness and welcome at each place."  -- Catherine E.

Photos from ecotour participant Rosie Striffler:
cock-of-the-rock-dining-group-rosie-strifflerACCA-rosie-striffler
cake-rosie-strifflerjoanna-caiman-rosie-strifflerjungle-book-rosie-striffler
kosnipata-rosie-strifflermirador-view-rosie-strifflersnake-rosie-striffler

Photos from ecotour co-leader Tin Bindi:
aguascalientes-group-frogs-recycle-tin-bindicusco-chelsea-morena-tin-bindifood-peru-tin-bindifrog-sculpture-tin-bindijohn-bohrman-food-tin-bindijohn-mott-goats-tin-bindimachu-picchu-overlook-tin-bindipisac-eric-bindseil-pisac-tin-bindipisac-group-2-tin-binditin-chelsea-machu-picchu-1-tin-bindi

We found 22 amphibian species during the ecotour!
Here is the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Peru Ecotour Species List:

Wayqecha
•    Pristimantis pharangobates
•    Oreobates gemcare
•    Gastrotheca nebulanastes

Villa Carmen
•    Adenomera cf. hylaedactyla
•    Leptodactylus didymus
•    Leptodactylus leptodactyloides
•    Engystomops freibergi
•    Dendropsophus leucophyllatus
•    Dendropsophus parviceps
•    Hypsiboas geographicus
•    Hypsiboas lanciformis
•    Hypsiboas punctatus
•    Phyllomedusa camba
•    Scinax ruber
•    Allobates femoralis
•    Rhinella marina
•    Pristimantis fenestratus
•    Bolitoglossa sp.

Cock of the Rock Lodge
•    Hypsiboas balzani
•    Hypsiboas sp.
•    Pristimantis lindae
•    Pristimantis pharangobates
•    Pristimantis sp.

"Chelsea, Thank you once again for organizing such a wonderful ecotour of Peru. Your knowledge of the area and subjects, command of Spanish, your attention to every detail, and your effusive personality made for an outstanding experience for all of us. Thank you for a job well done!." -- John M.

Peru Ecotour Summary from Trip Leader Chelsea Carson
The first ever SAVE THE FROGS! Peruvian Ecotour has just ended and was a complete success! Our group brought together scientists, environmental enthusiasts, teachers, doctors, musicians, and everything in between for an amazing 13-day tour of the Andes mountains and Amazon basin of Peru. We began the tour in the famous Andean city of Cusco where we learned about the unique history of the area and its modern fascinations. This beautiful archaeological site showcases Spanish colonial architecture built on top of the once Incan empire capital.

Later that afternoon we began our journey towards the eastern side of the Andes and into the cloudforest. Our first stop was the Wayqecha Biological Station where we had the incredible opportunity to hear from the scientific coordinator and station manager about the ecological treasures of the reserve and their ongoing conservation projects. Despite the high elevation (3,000 meters) and cold, dry temperatures we still found two species of frogs while out on our first night!

The group fell asleep underneath the stars as the clouds faded in and out of the valley below and awoke the next morning to a spectacular view of the Manu National Park. We all hiked through the high elevation cloudforest admiring the orchids and insects which occupy it until finding the canopy walk! Walking amongst the trees gave us the unique perspective of life from above and showcased just how amazing the scenery of the Wayqecha area truly is.

After a delicious Peruvian lunch we headed down from the foothills and deeper into the Amazon Basin. Our next stop and home for the next three nights was the Villa Carmen Biological Station. At Villa Carmen we found 15 species of amphibians as well as an abundance of other wildlife. We spent the three days hiking through the reserve, frogging every night, listening to presentations by SAVE THE FROGS! and Villa Carmen researchers, and even got to go to the local school and share our love and knowledge about amphibians.

To say Villa Carmen was a wonderful spot for our group only begins to say how much we enjoyed our time at this spectacular scientific field site and conservation area. From crossing rivers by cable car, to overlooking Alta Madre de Dios River from the mirador hike, our group explored the vast trail system of Villa Carmen and enjoyed all of the plants and animals we encountered along the way.

After three amazing nights at the station we said goodbye to the Villa Carmen staff and researchers and made our way back up towards the higher elevation forests. We broke up the drive and ignited our inner birder by staying the night at the famous Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge. As I’m sure the name gives away we got to experience to beauty of the Cock-of-the-Rock bird by visiting a lek nearby. We enjoyed the natural experience of staying in nature and had an unbelievable night of frogging! Co-leader Joanna showed the group just how dedicated to her work she is by scaling a forest wall to get a snake to show to the group!

We then had a leisurely morning picking out bird calls, practicing our Spanish, and watching an agouti run around the lodge. By afternoon we headed back up to higher ground to stay our final night in the Manu National Biosphere Reserve at the Wayqecha Biological Station and say hello to our friends there once again. We went out looking for frogs and did not come back disappointed! We found two species along the Manu road nearby.

The next morning we hiked the wonderful Zorro trail and got another panoramic view of the valleys below. This left us with an incredible sense of gratitude for the amazing week of frogging and adventure we had just experienced.

After a bittersweet goodbye to the Manu National Park we loaded into our van and headed back into the Andes mountains to complete the final 5 days of our tour and visit the Sacred Valley and surrounding areas. What an incredible time we had visiting these world heritage sites and many Incan ruins! We traveled from Cusco into the town of Aguascalientes to see the famous site of Machu Picchu. The group divided into groups and hiked through the neighboring mountains to observe this breathtaking Incan site. We then met back up in the afternoon to have a guided tour and learn about the mysterious history of this magical place.

After Machu Picchu we traveled into the Sacred Valley where we stopped in the towns of Ollantaytambo and Pisac. Each offered us a unique encounter into the lives and breathing history of the Peruvian people. Our group spent our final days walking through ruins, shopping at local markets, indulging on local cuisine, and sharing laughs and smiles about the trip. It was an incredible 13 days with a great group of people and SAVE THE FROGS! looks forward to bringing more of our supporters here in the future.

Thank you to everyone who joined us on this tour and we hope to see all of you on another tour in the future!

"Chelsea, Thank you once again for organizing such a wonderful ecotour of Peru. Your knowledge of the area and subjects, command of Spanish, your attention to every detail, and your effusive personality made for an outstanding experience for all of us. Thank you for a job well done!."
-- SAVE THE FROGS! Peru Ecotour Participant John M., Sacramento, CA

 save the frogs peru ecotour 2016

A note from Peru Ecotour Participant Eric Bindseil:

"Hi Kerry,
I have to tell you, I had a fantastically froggy Peru adventure with Chelsea and the whole SAVE THE FROGS! Peru crew, including the researchers at Villa Carmen too in November! It was absolutely wonderful to experience Cusco, Machu Picchu, the Peruvian Andes Cloud Forests, and the Amazon Basin Rainforests, searching successfully for so many species of frogs, snakes, insects, birds and even a few mammals too! Wow! What a treat! Chelsea did an incredible job with everything and everyone, she is awesome!

Just needed to tell you personally that the whole trip was great and I can't wait to participate in (maybe even assist or lead) future SAVE THE FROGS! ecotours. I certainly am interested in Panama and Colombia and probably other wild places also! How about Australia!? Another place I want to help protect and experience soon too!

Thank you, Michael and all the other SAVE THE FROGS! people for all you do for amphibians, wild lands, wildlife and the people of the world, which benefit all present and future generations!

Also, your suggestion to visit TRC was excellent! I was easily able to get there and had a glorious time for an extra 6 days seeing the important Macaw research and amazing clay lick sites too! I was fortunate to meet more wonderful folks and was able to see more frog species, including a couple poison dart frogs, and interesting snakes too! I even observed and photographed my first wild lands jaguar near TRC, along a river bank of the upper Amazon basin, traveling freely in its spectacular rainforest habitat!

Happy Holidays!!
Very Best to you and all STF! people,
Eric Bindseil"

People who like new experiences, adventures, and fringe explorations in wild nature love SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotours. SAVE THE FROGS! Ecotours are defined by lasting friendships, impressions, experience, and adventures, where you’ll meet like-minded people and have experiences of a lifetime.

The 2016 Ecuador Ecotour had people of all ages—from college-aged to senior—from a variety of backgrounds, brought together by a common love of frogs, wildlife, and adventure. The trip included many firsts for the participants, including rescuing an ocelot, ziplining through the canopy, even the first time out of the country or flying solo for some.

Read the profiles of some of the 2016 participants to get a feel of what it’s like to travel with SAVE THE FROGS! We know the best places to go and the best experiences along the way.  

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Jessica Scrivener posing with her new favorite animals

Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I am an intern coordinator and keeper at Lubee Bat Conservancy in Florida. I feed and take care of more than 200 animals, representing nine different species of fruit bats, a tortoise, sugar glider and two prehensile-tailed skinks. I also assist in non-invasive research and public education. My hobbies are hiking and walking my dog.

Q: What did you come on the ecotour to see, do, or accomplish?
A: I was very interested in seeing Poison Dart Frogs, a species of cat, and a species of monkey and managed to see them all and so many more!

Q: What was your favorite moment of the trip?
A: Probably our stay in the Amazon because going to the Amazon has been a life-long dream of mine and we got to see poison dart frogs, squirrel monkeys, and help assist in the transfer and rescue of a baby ocelot.

Q: What was a first for you on this trip?
A: It was my first time out of the country, river rafting, zip-lining, hiking at that high of elevations and trying all of the different food.

Q: What is something that you weren’t expecting but added to the trip’s experience?
A: I would have never expected us to have a baby ocelot at a lodge we were staying at that needed our help. I also didn't expect to be with such a great group of adventurers and make the connections with everyone that I did which will lead to life-long friendships.

deborah dempsey waterfall hike ecuador ecotour 2016
Deborah Blake Dempsey after the waterfall hike that changed her life

Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I am a writer and finance manager. My hobbies outside of work are cooking, reading, walking, camping and traveling.

Q: What did you come on the ecotour to see, do, or accomplish?
A: To learn more about amphibians, STF, conservation, and research ideas for The Hoppernots book series.

Q: What was your favorite moment of the trip?
A: No "one" moment, but from the second I left my house for the airport to Ecuador to the moment I boarded the cab to return home. I went with an open mind and no expectations other than to learn and experience something new to enrich my life and my stories. Everything about me was pushed - mind, body, and soul - and I came home a richer, more peaceful human because I opened myself up to what Ecuador and being with 16 other strangers for 12 days could teach me.

Q: What was a first for you on this trip?
A: Ziplining was a first and it was beyond what I could have hoped for. Flying in the cloud forest over the Andes upside with arms open wide and a reaching soul was nothing short of breathtaking. Night frogging was a first too! To be embraced by the darkness of night and a shining light stuck on my forehead looking for frogs and finding sleeping birds hidden in trees, snakes curled up wishing not to be bothered, spiders on a mission, finding strange, hairy, and colorful moths, and roaches the size of my hand was enlightening, and of course, the beautiful and majestic frogs I came to see was the first I was looking for and more. What an adventure! [We would like to add the Deborah was the most fierce and daring on the ziplining trip, even going upside down with her guide when most of the other participants were scared!]

Q: What is something that you weren’t expecting but added to the trip’s experience?
A: The waterfall hike at Ruta de las Cascadas. It was one of the hardest physical things I've done in a long time, but it was more of a mental challenge. I wanted to stop -- again and again I did -- but something inside me kept my feet moving as well as my newly found best friend Bertuus (aka my walking stick of sanity). When I finally arrived at the waterfall and plunged into the cooling waters, surrounded by such beauty, something strange and wondrous happened. Like a baptism, I came up like a new person. The water washed away all the "hardship" of the walk to the waterfall. The walk back was a breeze. I even wondered why I thought the walk there was so bad. It was challenging, but not a bad challenge. I overcame a mental block I had and didn't know it. I can honestly say I am much fiercer after the waterfall.

hiking andes save the frogs ecuador ecotour
Michael Horton with SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger on the left and Jessica Scrivener on the right, climbing the mountain overlook above Quito, Ecuador's capital

Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I am a retired endangered species biologist. My hobbies are writing, reading and pursuing adventures.

Q: What did you come on the ecotour to see, do, or accomplish?
A: Explore South America, hike, bird watch, and search for frogs

Q: What was your favorite moment of the trip?
A: Bird watching the first morning at Casa Divina [We would like to add that Michael’s wife, who was also on the trip, told us that a birder was born that day. The new obsession with birding, which lasted the rest of the trip, was born that morning. Mindo and the incredible guides do that to people!]

Q: What was a first for you on this trip?
A: First time in South America

Q: What is something that you weren’t expecting but added to the trip’s experience?
A: I didn't expect to have such wonderful people on the trip. Some of these folks will likely be friends for the rest of my life.

Suchipakari amazon boat Choti a
Choti Singh riding on a Napo River tributary on the way to AmaZOOnico, a wild animal rescue center in the Amazon

Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I assist people with developmental disabilities navigate behavior and mental health challenges to integrate successfully into community living. My hobbies include being in nature around wildlife, photography, spending time with my animals.

Q: What did you come on the ecotour to see, do, or accomplish?
A: To be on a STF! Ecotour; go to South America for the first time; see Ecuador; visit the Galápagos Islands; be amongst the incredible fauna and flora of the rainforest and cloud forest!

Q: What was your favorite moment of the trip?
A: There were so many! Saw iconic frogs, wild toucans, squirrel monkeys frolicking around me, the serenity of tubing down the river...

Q: What was a first for you on this trip?
A: Many firsts! First time on that continent, in Ecuador, ziplining!! First time to see a glass frog in the wild!

Q: What is something that you weren’t expecting but added to the trip’s experience?
A: Ziplining was a trip!

Watch this documentary about SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Executive Director Gilbert Adum's passion for frogs and about our work to save the last Giant Squeaker Frogs (Arthroleptis krokosua) and improve the lives of the Yawkrom community in the Sui River Forest Reserve.

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ghana stf dw tv

During the SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Expedition, a German film crew from Deutsche Wela (DW-TV) traveled with our team to Yawkrom and the Sui forest in order to document the incredible work of Gilbert and SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana. This documentary will be broadcast around the world.

Broadcast Times:
14.10.2016 | 21:30 on DW‎ (12:30 PST, 19:30 GMT)
15.10.2016 | 05:30 on DW‎ (20:30 PST, 3:30 GMT)
Or watch the entire episode here.

SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana has become a symbol of hope and inspiration for West African amphibian conservation efforts. We are confident that this documentary will further educate and empower the thousands who watch it in order to protect amphibians in their own communities.

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Thank you for your continued support and please share this exciting video with your frog-saving friends!


SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger first traveled to Ghana in September 2011. On that trip he co-founded SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana with amphibian biologist Gilbert Adum. In 2016, Dr. Kriger returned to Ghana to lead the SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Expedition, a 23-day journey to train volunteers and spread amphibian awareness throughout the country. This is his story of how he became an African chief.

Kerry Kriger
On September 22nd, 2016, SAVE THE FROGS! Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger took a pledge to help the environment and development of the Yawkrom community, and was inducted as chief of environment and development.

Introduction
On the 5th birthday of SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana (September 22nd, 2016), I became a chief in the village of Yawkrom, Western Region, Ghana. A seven hour ceremony took place featuring live drumming, dancing, singing, a brass band, all the village chiefs, members of parliament and numerous presentations on frogs, the environment, empowering students and otherwise improving the community. About 500 people were present - virtually the entire village. SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Co-Founder Gilbert Adum and I pledged to the chiefs to help the community's development and environment and we were inducted as chiefs. The paramount chief cut the ribbon on SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana's brand new Sui Amphibian Conservation Education Center and I pledged a $1,000 donation to the center on behalf of SAVE THE FROGS!. At the end of the ceremonies, Gilbert and I marched away with our fellow chiefs, followed by a brass band, to a house in the village where we shared a bottle of shnapps. Afterwards I gave an interview to the German documentary crew that had been filming our efforts for the past several days. I went to sleep that night to the sound of frogs calling from a plantain field nearby.

Chiefs Ghana
The chiefs of Yawkrom, Ghana sit in front of the brand new Sui Amphibian Conservation Education Centre at the base of the Sui River Forest Reserve.

Yawkrom sits at the base of the Sui River Forest Reserve, which is home to the Giant Squeaker Frog (Arthroleptis krokosua), one of the world's most endangered amphibians. The rainforests surrounding Yawkrom are a true amphibian biodiversity hotspot, with at least thirty known amphibian species. Unfortunately the Sui rainforests are increasingly under threat from legal and illegal mining, farming, timber collection, hunting and fires. As such, protecting the Sui rainforests and saving the frogs of the Yawkrom region is one of the most significant amphibian conservation challenges in the world - and one of our greatest opportunities to make a significant positive impact.

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Gilbert Adum (in green) and I sit in a line of 18 chiefs shortly after our installment as chiefs of environment and development.

Before I relate the full story of how Gilbert and I became chiefs, I feel it is necessary to convey the fact that our induction to the chieftancy (which we had not solicited) came about only after five years of sustained efforts on the parts of myself and Gilbert to save Ghana's frogs and to gain the support of Ghana's people in our frog saving efforts - all facilitated by the generous support of the SAVE THE FROGS! worldwide community of staff, volunteers and supporters.

save the frogs ghana sui
The students of Yawkrom were granted the day off of school so they could attend the celebrations. The building in the background is SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana's brand new Sui Amphibian Conservation Education Centre.

I must also state the implications of our new chieftancy: the two most important being that Gilbert and I have:
(1) greatly expanded our sphere of influence within the Yawkrom community and thus the Sui River Forest Reserve; and
(2) we have taken on the responsibility to improve not just the health of the rainforest, but also that of the Yawkrom community, which lacks running water, proper sanitation and other basics of life most westerners take for granted. To achieve our goals of improving the environment and the community of Yawkrom, Gilbert and I appreciate your continued support far into the future. Without further ado, enjoy the story!

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All the details of how Gilbert Adum and I became chiefs

A few hours into the day's celebrations (which included traditional drumming, dancing, singing and a multitude of presentations on the environment), Gilbert and I were asked to walk over to the Chiefs, who were seated on the opposite side of the event grounds from us. We all shook hands, then walked in a line with the Chiefs into a private room of the new education center. The chiefs pulled out traditional robes (kente) and sandals for me and Gilbert. We removed our shirts and shoes and the Chiefs helped me get my robe on correctly. It took three Chiefs a couple minutes to figure it out, so I hope there's a YouTube guide to donning a chief robe lest I need to do it myself sometime! The left hand always holds the robe to keep it in place and one shoulder is always left uncovered. After we were properly dressed one of the Chiefs instructed us on the pledge we would soon make: “I pledge to the Nananum (board of Chiefs) to help with the environment and development of the community”. He also showed me how to hold the golden handled sword while reciting the pledge (the sword was of lightweight materials and not a real fighting sword).

kerry kriger gilbert adum

We walked out to the center of the field where the celebrations were taking place. My new name was announced:
(Nana Kojo Agyeman Bosompem Nkosuohene The First).

Nana = Elder
Kojo = Born on Monday
Agyeman = He who fought for the town
Bosompem = Great deity, or thousand gods
Nkosuo = Development
Hene = Chief

Then we turned and walked to within a few meters in front of where the paramount chief (the omanhene) sat. Gilbert went first and gave his pledge.

kerry kriger
SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Co-Founder Gilbert Adum pledges to protect the environment of Yawkrom, and was given the title Nana Kwabena Bosompem Sompahene The First. Sompa means great, selfless, dedicated service.

Then the chief next to me told me it was time for me to step up. I stepped up to the edge of a ditch a few meters in front of the paramount chief (Nana Akwasi Agyemang Bosompem II). The paramount chief recited some statements that I repeated and I made my pledge into the microphone. This took maybe ninety seconds and included statements such as if the Chiefs ever call on me I will come rain or shine (unless I am unhealthy and thus unable to come).

kerry kriger chief

I was instructed to step up to the paramount chief. I crossed the ditch and walked up the middle of the two rows of kids known as “souls”. The souls were dressed in all white and black garb of artistic design and with matching headwear. They looked less than ten years old. Souls are chosen at birth to that position and are always virgins. Eventually when they get too old they are replaced by incoming souls (younger children). There were perhaps eight of them, in two columns of four. I walked up the middle of the souls and stopped in front of the paramount chief. We had a long handshake. I can't remember what he said. Then I walked to my left, shaking hands and saying thank you to every one of the sixteen Chiefs, all who were seated.

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Shaking hands with my fellow chiefs

Then Gilbert and I took seats at the end of the row. A physically fit kid of maybe 16 years old held an umbrella for Gilbert and I for the duration of the day. The sun was hot but we were generally in the shade of a big tree. I didn't have my camera on me but would have loved it as I was in a line of Chiefs. Some had golden staffs (not likely real gold), each with a different animal at the top.

save the frogs chiefs

We sat for a an hour as the rest of the presentations continued. A woman took the mic to solicit donations for the brand new Sui Amphibian Conservation Education Center, which was just a few meters behind us. I walked out and pledged $1,000 on behalf of SAVE THE FROGS!. A very generous donor had specifically contributed this a few hours earlier in response to the fundraising appeal I had sent out that morning.

chief kerry kriger ghana
In my first speech as an African chief, I pledged $1,000 on behalf of SAVE THE FROGS! to assist with the Sui Amphibian Conservation Education Centre.

At the end of the presentations, we all walked over to the new education center. The paramount chief cut the rope and ushered in a whole new area of amphibian conservation. We went in with the film crew, lots of kids, the Chiefs, Alex the candidate for Member of Parliament and others. There were five computers with SAVE THE FROGS! stickers on them - the village's first computers (all recently purchased by SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana) - and a library of kids' environmental books that STF! Ghana’s Sandra Owusu-Gyamfi had acquired in Accra. I talked to Alex the candidate for Parliament and then walked outside and took photos with the kids. Then Gilbert and I and the chiefs re-gathered. I took a seat immediately beside the paramount chief and a round of photos was had.

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Traditional singers and drummers performed throughout the day 

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Gilbert Adum and I with the paramount chief of Yawkrom (Nana Akwasi Agyemang Bosompem II).

After the photo session Gilbert and I marched with the Chiefs to “the palace”, followed by the brass band and shaded by the kid who carried our umbrella. The palace was a house that looked like any other in the village, but without trash in the yard, and fairly well-ordered inside. The Nananum (the Chiefs) all sat in a semi-circle in the front yard, me beside the paramount chief. We all had a shot of schnapps. The tradition is to pour a small amount on the ground prior to drinking.

sui celebration kids smiling
The next generation of frog savers in Yawkrom

I talked for a while with the paramount chief, who explained the meaning of my new name and told me he'd be happy to come to America as an ambassador if I hold an event. He told me that he had been online to read through the SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana website, which made me happy. He mentioned that he had seen the photo of Sandra Owusu-Gyamfi with several of the Yawkrom chiefs (one of my all-time favorite SAVE THE FROGS! photos, see below). The chief in the red hat in that photo was currently sitting next to us; the paramount chief told me it was that chief who had suggested that I be inducted as a chief. I turned to him and thanked him for his support.

2014 frog yawkrom chiefs elders sandra owusu gyamfi 
The paramount chief told me he had seen this 2014 photo on our site, and that it was the chief in the red hat who suggested I be installed as a chief.

I asked the paramount chief if he was born in the village. He told me that he was from Kumasi (the second largest city in Ghana) and lived near the SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana offices. He had been chief for just seven months. I was later told that there had been some controversy about him becoming paramount chief as he was an outsider to the village. His grandfather was a famous chief and by virtue of him being a nephew of the former chief, he inherited the omanhene (paramount chieftancy) when his uncle died - chieftancy is matrilineal, going to the son of the sister of the deceased chief. Virtually all chiefs inherited their positions. Generally the only non-hereditary chiefs are development chiefs (such as Gilbert and myself) who have contributed significantly to the community or have the potential and the expectation to contribute significantly in the future. Youth can also be made chiefs if they are deemed exceptional. Regardless of his background, I was happy the paramount chief had visited our website and seemed accepting of our conservation efforts.

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Traditional Ghanaian dancers during the SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana 5th birthday celebrations.

Eventually the paramount chief said I could go change out of my robe if I wanted to. I walked in “the palace” and in the back was my shirt, but unfortunately my sandals were missing. I was told I could keep my robe and my new Chief sandals (which were quite uncomfortable). The head of household walked me over to the education center to find my own sandals, which fortunately were still in the room I had walked into just before becoming a chief.

kerry kriger chief

I walked out and the German film crew from Deutsche Wela (DW-TV) was interviewing Gilbert. They asked me for an interview, slightly disappointed I was no longer in my chief attire. After the interview I walked them over to the palace so they could interview the paramount chief. I stayed to hear what he had to say.

Kerry Kriger Frogs
With kids in front of the brand new Sui Amphibian Conservation Education Centre

At the end of the interview I walked with Gilbert to our village host's house as the rest of our team was there and dinner awaited us. We had dinner with our host family with a view of the Sui hills and rainforest in the distance. Eventually we got into our taxis and drove the dirt road 75 minutes back to the Cocoa Board Lodge in Siefsi Wiawso, where I reminisced about the events of the day and drifted off to sleep to the sounds of frogs calling.

save the frogs kids

Stay tuned for a lot more photos from the day's celebrations, as well as an article about my goals as chief of environment and development in Yawkrom, Western Region, Ghana.

You can help out today by donating to our efforts in Ghana. We rely on your support to make amazing things happen for frogs, rainforests and humans. Thank you for helping us SAVE THE FROGS!

In September 2016, SAVE THE FROGS! led an international team of amphibian biologists on the inaugural SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Expedition. The mission of the expedition was to protect Ghana’s amphibian populations, empower the next generation of Ghanaian frog conservationists, and expand the international network of environmentalists interested in protecting West Africa’s endangered amphibians and ecosystems.  

For 23 days our expedition team traveled throughout Ghana:  
(1) Conducting educational programs;  
(2) Searching for endangered rainforest frogs;  
(3) Restoring habitat for endangered amphibians;  
(4) Exchanging knowledge with Ghanaian biologists; and  
(5) Working to improve and accelerate amphibian conservation efforts in Ghana. 

Join an online presentation all about the SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Expedition on October 14th, 2016:
On Friday, October 14th, at 10am San Francisco Time, SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Co-Founder Dr. Kerry Kriger will hold an online video conference all about the SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Expedition. In this presentation, Dr. Kriger will discuss the expedition’s successes and show many amazing photos from the SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Expedition. All are welcomed to join in on this interesting and informative discussion about our amphibian conservation efforts in West Africa. 

Join online from PC or Mac:
https://zoom.us/j/580658577
Or Telephone:
Dial: +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll) or +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll)
Meeting ID: 580 658 577
International numbers available:
https://zoom.us/zoomconference?m=RTRJPWLYN5EZwdmFPrByFTYsYQtPch14

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The strawberry poison dart frog, Oophaga pumilio, has an extraordinary reproductive strategy. Females lay their eggs in leaf-litter or on plants on the rainforest floor. When the tadpoles hatch, one of the parents will coax them to climb onto their back. Then the parent frog transports the tadpoles to small pockets of water in bromeliads or other vegetation, often high in the trees. That is like if you carried a human baby to the top of the Empire State Building!

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The dedicated parent returns intermittently through their development to lay unfertilized eggs in the water. These eggs serve as the tadpole’s primary food source. The name of this frog’s genus is “Oophaga”, which literally means egg-eater! Eggs for breakfast, anyone? The strawberry poison dart frog occurs throughout the Caribbean coast of Central America, but it is a frog we will see often next summer in Costa Rica!

It should be known that there are some incredibly dedicated "cold-blooded" parents in the Wild World Of Frogs! Amphibians are ectotherms, which means they rely on the environment to regulate their own body heat. However, the term "cold-blooded" has a negative connotation and sometimes amphibians are perceived to not have concern for other members of their own species. The strawberry poison dart frog is definitely a dedicated and caring cold-blooded parent!

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Do you want to see these amazing frogs for yourself? Then join SAVE THE FROGS! next summer in Costa Rica! We will travel to this beautiful country and meet its amazing amphibians on July 14th-25th, 2017. We have already filled ten spots on this ecotour, so hop to it if you want to join SAVE THE FROGS! in Costa Rica! See the amazing strawberry poison dart frogs for yourself and learn all about this exciting ecotour here:
www.savethefrogs.com/costarica2017

SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana has secured a building and work is underway for the construction of West Africa’s first amphibian conservation education centre. It is strategically located in the home region of Ghana's flagship Giant Squeaker Frog, thus, dubbed the "Sui Amphibian Conservation Education Centre (SACEC)".Arthroleptis krokosua juvenile
The critically endangered Giant Squeaker Frog (Arthroleptis krokosua).

Funded by Whitley Fund for Nature, it's a three room building with an infusion of both modern and traditional architecture, comprising a library and a computer/technology centre. With the support of over 50 daily local volunteers including women groups, the building will be completed and commissioned on the 5th birthday of SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana, 22nd September 2016.

The commissioning of SACEC will be broadcast by Germany’s biggest media house, DW-TV at a grand durbar of dignitaries including SAVE THE FROGS! founder, Dr. Kerry Kriger and other staff, politicians, educationists, conservationists, traditional leaders, and local people. All frog and nature lovers are also invited to be part of this historic event. Together, we can save the frogs, and save the world!

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The SACEC before restoration. There was a lot of work to be done!
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Back view of the building. 
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Demolished parts of the front view of the building.west-africa-amphibian-conservation-centre-6
Front view of building under reconstruction.
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Progress made on front view of building.
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With the roof nearly collapsed, ceiling panels needed to be added.
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This reconstruction of this building was done entirely by volunteers.

With your support, the Sui Amphibian Conservation Education Centre will be a model for amphibian conservation efforts throughout all of West Africa! Please donate to ensure the future success of the SACEC!
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Victory for amphibians in California! The United States Fish and Wildlife Service declared nearly 3,000 square miles in the Sierra Nevada mountains as critical habitat for the mountain yellow-legged frog, Sierra Madre yellow-legged frog and the Yosemite toad. These three endangered amphibian species face an array of threats including pesticides, infectious diseases and predation by invasive trout species. This newly secured habitat will give these amazing amphibians the much needed protection they deserve.

Many thanks to the wonderful SAVE THE FROGS! supporters who sent in letters of support when the USFWS held a public comment period for listing this area as endangered amphibian species habitat. Learn more about this exciting victory here.

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Mountain Yellow-legged Frogs in Amplexus. Photo by Vance Vredenburg.

Subcategories

The SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Expedition

In September 2016, SAVE THE FROGS! will lead an international team of 18 amphibian biologists and frog enthusiasts on the inaugural SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Expedition. The mission of the expedition is to protect Ghana's amphibian populations, empower the next generation of Ghanaian frog conservationists, and expand the international network of environmentalists interested in protecting West Africa's endangered amphibians and ecosystems.

Please download the 2016 SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Expedition Summary here.

"From all the information provided in the Expedition Summary, it seems to be a very life-changing experience that would be a shame to miss."
Ashley Alwine, Pensylvania

The SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Expedition is a collaborative effort organized by SAVE THE FROGS! and SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana.

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