The three-colored Harlequin Toad (Atelopus tricolor) known from eastern Andes of Bolivia and Peru, previously a common species, has not been recorded since 2003, in much the same way as many other species of harlequin toads elsewhere. For this reason it was reassessed as Critically Endangered in September 2019. On January 2020, after several attempts to find the species and almost 17 years without records, four individuals were found.
Several institutions and groups have come together in an effort to save this species from extinction. The Bolivian Amphibian Initiative, with extensive experience on amphibian conservation, The IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group - Bolivia (ASG) with both experience in Bolivian amphibian conservation and an important network of experts at the global level, the Bolivian Government via the Dirección General de Biodiversidad y Areas Protegidas (DGB-AP) with their support for this project, the Bioparque Municipal Vesty Pakos, with their potential to reach a large number of visitors, La Paz Biodiversa, with experience involving society in conservation and education, and Diversidad entre Pendientes, with experience in the area and contacts with local communities, make this project a truly multidisciplinary joint effort towards the conservation of this species.
But this team is also now coordinating internationally with other organizations and groups such as Rewild, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, and Atelopus Survival Initiative and it is searching more collaborations, that together have a vast experience in amphibian conservation and also specifically in this genus
With this project we intend to assess the population status of this population found in January 2020 and address the following key and critical questions: are these individuals exposed to the fungal disease Bd? How big is this population? Are there other populations in the surrounding areas? What is the condition of the habitat where this population was found? What is the impact of farming in the region? What do local communities think about the species and its conservation? The answers to these questions will allow us to identify the next steps for the conservation of this species. Both in-situ and if needed ex-situ approaches, together with education strategies, may help to safeguard probably one of the last populations of this unique toad of Bolivia.