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World’s most toxic frog gets new reserve

Golden poison frog. Photo by: © ProAves.
Golden poison frog. Photo by: © ProAves.

Touching a wild golden poison frog could kill you within minutes: in fact, a single golden poison frog, whose Latin name Phyllobates terribilis is even more evocative than its common one, is capable of killing 10 humans with its one milligram dose of poison. Yet the deadly nature of this tiny frog has not stopped it from nearing extinction. Now, in a bid to save the species, the World Land Trust (WLT) and Colombian NGO ProAves have teamed up to establish a 50 hectare (124 acres) reserve in the Chocó rainforest.

Found only in Colombia, the golden poison frog is currently imperiled by deforestation and fragmentation with its habitat stripped away for agriculture, logging, coca growing, and illegal gold mining. While the new reserve is small, the WLT says a healthy population of the endangered species survives in the new protected area.

“The reserve will be initially protected by one ranger from the local community—increasing the size of the ranger team is dependent on funding. At the moment the reserve does not have any infrastructure on it, but in the near future ProAves intend on building a small ranger cabin—this will lead to better reserve protection and management,” World Land Trust told

The organization also hopes to expand the reserve, but this is dependent on overcoming difficult land issues in the area.

“There is a potential to create a larger protected area with the Negro Renacer Community, but this is also something that is in the beginning stages,” World Land Trust added.

Dubbed the most poisonous vertebrate on the planet, the tiny golden poison frog has proven a unique resource for indigenous people. Like other poison dart frogs, indigenous people wipe arrow tips on the amphibians—without hurting them—to load their tips with poison. The arrow head retains its mortal toxicity for two years.

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