Today, 21st July 2022, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has officially updated the status of the longnose harlequin frog (Atelopus longirostris) - found only in the cloud forests of the Intag Valley, NW Ecuador - from Extinct to Critically Endangered. This has taken place on the same day that Ecuador’s provincial court is hearing a case to determine the future of the country’s incredibly biodiverse Intag Valley.
In 2016, thanks to funding from Rainforest Concern, a small population of two males and two females were discovered in Intag Valley. The species hadn’t been seen since 1989 and subsequently, were declared extinct. Since then, a breeding program by the Centro Jambatu for Amphibian Research and Conservation has successfully reproduced the longnose harlequin frog multiple times with hopes that this insurance population can one day be returned to the wild.
Despite the good news, the longnose harlequin frog’s future is less than certain. The Intag Valley, one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, is threatened by a large-scale copper mining project by Codelco, the Chilean state-owned mining company and the world’s biggest copper producer, along with Empresa Nacional Minera del Ecuador (Enami), Ecuador’s state-owned mining company. If it goes ahead, the longnose harlequin frog and countless other endangered species could be lost forever.
Today marks the next step in the fight to protect Intag Valley. The hearing at the provincial court of Imbabura province will determine if the mining concession, called the Llurimagua concession, will be allowed to go ahead.