U.S. Bred Toads Returning to Africa

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, Aug. 17 (UPI) — One hundred of the world’s rarest amphibians have been returned to their African homeland after being carefully raised at two U.S. zoos, officials said.

The Kihansi spray toads are living in a state-of-the-art propagation center in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s commercial capital, after being transported from the Bronx Zoo in New York and the Toledo, Ohio, zoo, a Wildlife Conservation Society release said Tuesday.

Spokeswoman Anna Maembe said the Tanzanian government was “very grateful to the Bronx Zoo and The Toledo Zoo for taking care of these precious toads for 10 years.

“We are very optimistic that they will acclimatize soon and be taken to their homeland in Kihansi Gorge in the near future,” she said.

The Kihansi spray toad was first discovered in 1996 living in a 5-acre micro-habitat created by the spray of nearby waterfalls in the Kihansi Gorge. In 1999, the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the gorge dramatically changed the Kihansi spray toad’s habitat, lessening the mist zone in which the toads thrived.

Scientists and Tanzanian officials collected a colony of 499 Kihansi spray toads from the gorge as assurance of the species’ survival.

The toad was last seen in the wild in 2004, and in 2009 the toad was declared to be extinct in the wild by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

The Toledo Zoo has 5,000 toads and the Bronx zoo has 1,500. Both zoos will continue breeding them, returning additional shipments to Tanzania as their numbers rebound.

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