5 Vanishing Frogs

Southern Corroboree Frog
Southern Corroboree Frog Ian Waldie/Getty Images

The short, grating "ark" call of the southern corroboree frog is an increasingly uncommon sound that may soon vanish from this world. Only about 250 mature southern corroboree frogs remain in the wild — a tiny number that is declining sharply. It's predicted that, over the next three years, at least 25 percent of this population will vanish, and that most of the rest will disappear over the next ten. The causes are unknown. The chytrid fungus may be a culprit. The planting of exotic willow trees and excavation by feral pigs have helped degrade much of this frog's alpine habitat.

A habitat specialist, this frog prefers montane and sub-alpine woodlands, grassland and heathland above 1,000 meters. In 2002 and 2003, some 90 percent of this habitat was destroyed by bush fires, placing this already critically endangered frog on a grim path to extinction. Note its striking yellow-and-black markings; granular back skin and ridges of warts running down the length of its body. This skin is covered in poisonous secretions produced by the southern corroboree frog itself; this sets it apart from most poisonous frogs, which obtain their toxins from their food. These frogs mature slowly, not breeding until age four, and hibernate in winter wherever they can find shelter.