Since the founding of the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative in 2007, we have been monitoring and reporting the illegal trade of the Titicaca Water Frog (Telmatobius culeus). Because of the complex requirements of the species, and a lack of knowledge of how to manage this species in captivity, historically many confiscated individuals have sadly died. For this reason, in 2018 BAI conducted a husbandry and education program in collaboration with the Vesty Pakos Zoo in La Paz city — where confiscated specimens are taken, having been rescued from markets.
BAI undertook the training of the zoo staff to guarantee the correct management of these frogs. Additionally, the confiscated frogs displayed at the zoo raise awareness to zoo visitors, which exceed 400.000 individuals per year, including a large number of school groups. 24 participants — zoo staff, external biologists and veterinarians — were trained in subjects of amphibian conservation including amphibian husbandry with both theoretical and practical lectures. In association with the Ministry of Rural Development and their department, IPD-PACU, we also carried out lectures at Lake Titicaca, where participants carried out different activities at the in-situ location.
Telmatobius simonsi, listed by IUCN as Critically Endangered in 2019, has been one of the species which populations have been declining dramatically. It is sadly no longer present in a large area of its distribution and now remains few localities where the species is still present around the urban city of Sucre. Due to this situation, conversations with fellow conservation biologist contacts and lectures at the public university with biology students of this city, BAI saw the need to organise a training course for this group of enthusiastic students. In October 2019, BAI carried out this training course to 22 students where monitoring techniques were taught to the students, along with different aspects of amphibian biology, ecology and conservation. Theoretical and practical lectures were carried out, with fieldwork undertaken in areas where amphibian populations were present.
Due to the enthusiasm of the students, a group was established in Sucre where students will carry out different activities associated with different amphibian species and one grant was established for the successful candidate, who is now working in conserving Telmatobius simonsi.
BAI has also collaborated with the Chilean team working with the conservation of the Loa Water Frog (Telmatobius dankoi). With our experience, we were able to help in the establishment of the captive breeding program of this species and continue to support the Loa Water Frog team in Chile, providing them different information to succeed in the husbandry of this species.
BAI has carried out educational activities in different Bolivian cities, where aspects about amphibian conservation was shared with people from universities, and even members of the public. Some of the examples are: Universidad Mayor de San Francisco in Sucre, Universidad Mayor de San Andres in La Paz, Vesty Pakos Zoo in La Paz, IPD-PACU at Titicaca Lake, and online lectures with Natural Zone, Bolivia.