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2019 Whitley Award
Herp Conservation Ghana
Caleb Ofori-Boateng Ghana Terrestrial
Critical refuge for the Togo slippery frog

FROG DOCTOR

The first formally trained herpetologist in Ghana, Caleb was part of an expedition in 2005 which discovered a population of the Togo slippery frog after it had been considered extinct by scientists for 40 years. Founder of the NGO, Herp Conservation Ghana, Caleb has worked tirelessly in the remote forests of the Togo-Volta Highlands to ensure this Critically Endangered amphibian’s protection ever since.

FORESTS UNDER THREAT

A stream and waterfall dweller, these frogs rely on healthy forests to protect the watershed and keep their freshwater habitat clean. Without formal protection, rapid agricultural expansion and widespread logging have put the frogs, and many other species, at risk. Together with local communities, Caleb and his team have succeeded in establishing Ghana’s first protected area for endangered amphibians, and they have big plans for expansion.

BEHAVIOUR CHANGE

Togo slippery frogs are also threatened by human consumption. It’s said people moved to the region 5,000 years ago specifically because of this forest’s edible frogs, with over 70% of local people having eaten them. Caleb’s Whitley Award will allow him to expand his work to new communities, using innovative methods to engage with audiences and bring about behaviour change.

Caleb’s project will:

  • Work alongside communities and government to gain legal protection for 60km² of forest where the Togo slippery frog is found.
  • Train local ‘behaviour change champions’ to raise awareness to reduce consumption of the frogs.
  • Restore degraded areas of former forest habitat, replanting 20,000 trees to prevent erosion and sedimentation of the frog’s waterfall and stream habitat.

Why it matters:

  • The project site is home to 11 other threatened species, including two pangolin species.
  • The Togo slippery frog is listed 18th in the top 100 most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) amphibians – as genetically different from other amphibians as pigs are from humans.

“The only world I knew for the first 7 years of my life, was one in which humans lived so successfully with wildlife in a protected area setting; a beauty that I now strive to recreate in my adult life.”

Image credits: Les Films au Clair de Lune