Man-Made Mist Saves Dwarf Toad from Extinction

The headcount for the species dropped from 17,000 to 499 after the construction of a dam

By on November 2nd, 2012 22:01 GMT

A species of dwarf toad was recently saved from becoming extinct by an artificial misting system designed, manufactured and set in place by a group of conservationists who are highly protective of Tanzanian biodiversity.

These dwarf toads were first discovered back in 1996, and at that time it was estimated that as many as 17,000 specimens belonging to this species were inhabiting a rather small portion of land: two hectares located fairly close to the Kihansi Gorge in Tanzania.

Apparently, these dwarf toads were this successful in upping the overall headcount for their population because the patch of land that constituted their natural habitat was constantly “sprayed” by a series of waterfalls and thus kept moist.

However, once a hydroelectric dam was erected nearby, all of the moisture these toads were thriving on disappeared.

Moreover, some of the toads got sick and sooner than one might expect there were quite few of them left, Mongabay reports.

Thanks to the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo, a captive population of 499 such frogs was established and allowed to breed.

Last week, 2,500 such toads were released back into their natural habitats.

In order to keep them from once again coming face to face with extinction, conservationists came up with an artificial system that provides the toads with all the moisture they might need.

“It diverts water from above the fall through a network of pipes with misting heads at regular intervals and effectively creates a spray zone over a broader area than the Kihansi Fall, in its current state, can generate,” explains conservationist Don Church.

Furthermore, “The system is maintained to deliver 70 mm of 'precipitation' per day which was the average amount recorded in the 'spray meadow' prior to the dam's construction.”

Apparently, this man-made structure also encompasses a series of bridges which allow scientists to come close to these dwarf toads and see how they are doing.

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