Discover Distinct Amphibians in Borneo

January 26, 2012
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Colorful, spindly-legged and elusive is how many scientists might describe the Sambas stream toad, or Borneo rainbow toad. Although its existence was recorded through an illustration nearly 90 years ago, the toad has managed to evade photographers, artists - virtually all humans - since 1924. Until recently. In June, conservationists managed to take the first photographs of this amphibian, the Belfast Telegraph reports. The endangered toad was found during a "global search for lost amphibians" by Conservation International. Three of the Borneo rainbow toads were located in a tree at night after a team had searched for them for months in remote forests.

"Thrilling discoveries like this beautiful toad, and the critical importance of amphibians to healthy ecosystems, are what fuel us to keep searching for lost species," Dr. Indraneil Das told the news source. Das led the team from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) that found the toads. "They remind us that nature still holds precious secrets which we are still uncovering, which is why targeted protection and conservation is so important," Das added.

According to Scientific Computing, Das and his team decided to search for the toad last August, amid fears worldwide that it may be extinct. The group found the animals on three separate trees in the Penrissen mountain range in Boreno. The toads measured up to two inches each, they reported, and included an adult male, an adult female and a juvenile, the news source reports.

While those experiencing nature travel in Borneo may not get a chance to see these elusive endangered species, there are plenty of other amphibians there that will be in plain sight. According to, there are at least eight families of frogs in the tropical southeast Asian island.

The family of firebellied toads, or bombinatoridae, only includes eight species worldwide. One, the B. kalimantanensis, can be found in Borneo. This toad has an archaic appearance and anatomy but shows adaptive skills for life in streams. The true toads, or bufonidae family, comprise 31 species on Borneo. These amphibians can be found in the lowlands, generally, though some may ascend the highlands. One species, Ansonia fuliginea, boasts the highest elevational distribution of all Bornean frogs, rising higher than 3,000 meters.

Travelers on a Borneo tour may spot a file-eared tree frog, also known as the polypedates otilophus in the rhacophoridae family. This large, pale brown frog dwells near breeding ponds and can grow up to four inches long.

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