February 9, 2023
Source: The Guardian
Deep in Costa Rica’s mist-shrouded cloud forest, hundreds of bright golden toads would appear suddenly each April to mate. It was a spectacular sight for those who witnessed it: the dazzling, mostly subterranean amphibians gathered en masse around pools of rainwater and fought aggressively for the right to copulate with the females before heading back underground.
“It was one of the truly great wildlife spectacles of the American tropics,” says ecologist Alan Pounds, resident scientist at the Tropical Science Center’s Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve, standing at the centre of the toads’ former habitat. “It somehow looked unreal.”
About 1,500 golden toads were observed in 1987 in the area of the highland forest where the entire species resided – the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. But by 1989, only a single male was left after the pools in which the toads congregated dried up. He is presumed to have died not long after. The species was certified as extinct in 2004 and is believed to be one of the earliest terrestrial extinctions linked to the climate crisis.