This time last year Borneo’s amazing biodiversity again made widespread news with the rediscovery of the long lost Borneo Rainbow Toad. In July 2011 researchers from the University of Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) led by herpetologist Dr. Indraneil Das made an extraordinary find in the mountains of western Sarawak. Three small amphibians were observed in the branches of a tree, and upon close inspection these were revealed to be none other than Ansonia latidisca, a species which had not been seen since 1924.
Measuring up to 5 cm in length, this toad is one of the largest and certainly most colorful in the genus Ansonia. Although the dorsum is richly patterned with green, yellow, purple, and brown with red-tupped warts, the general appearance is somewhat “mossy” and this may serve to camouflage the animal from potential predators.
The rediscovery of this species brings some much-needed hope in the face of ever-increasing worldwide amphibian extinctions, particularly as Conservation International had previously listed the Borneo Rainbow Toad as one of the “world’s top 10 most wanted frogs” in their Global Search for Lost Frogs in 2010. Nevertheless, amphibians remain the most threatened group of vertebrates on the planet, with severe threats coming from habitat loss, climate change, and the dreaded chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis).
Photographs are still scarce of this elusive species, and little is known of its life cycle, behavior, or remaining popultion.