|'Toughie', last Rabbs' Fringe-limbed treefrog|
Rabbs' Fringe-limbed tree frogThis post is inspired by the incredibly sad news that the last Rabbs' Fringe-limbed tree frog (Ecnomiohyla rabborum) has died and this species has now been declared officially extinct. This species of frog was a forest canopy dweller found in Panama and was only discovered as recently as 2005 and classified as a separate species in 2008. Sadly, around this time the chytrid fungus was noted in other frog species in the same habitat as the Rabb's Fringe-limbed tree frog which was the primary cause of the drastic decline of this species which resulted in one remaining male frog, 'Toughie', being left in captivity by 2012. This fungus has had devastating impacts on huge numbers of amphibians and scientists suggest that this is the worst disease to have ever impacted a group of vertebrates as it thought that it can infect every species of amphibian and is nearly always fatal. Although there is a vain hope that there may still be some of this species of tree frog left in the wild, none have been reported in many years, so the strong likelihood is that this species is now gone forever.
Other types of extinction
|One of the remaining three northern white rhinos|
Is extinction really forever?
There is a budding area of science that may change the stories of all these species and that is the theory of 'de-extinction'. Our understanding and ability to work with genetic material has improved immensely in even the last decade with the possibility of bring wildlife species back from the dead perhaps not such a radical idea. This is a very controversial concept which will always cause arguments but it will also continue to grow as, after all, the human race is in desperate need of a back up plan if we continue to decimate wildlife at the current rate.
At any rate, conservation should and will focus on trying to prevent other wildlife species becoming any type of extinct as is our duty. We have failed the Rabbs' Fringe-limbed treefrog. I can only hope that our list of successes slowly starts to increase to make these failures more bearable.