Today was a day of following ghaut (excuse the pun) feelings. We were exploring new areas of our release site ghaut to try and find the frog utopia we’re sure must exist, to explain why we can’t find certain frogs on our normal searches in the main release site area.

Water pools in the release ghaut
Water pools in the release ghaut. ©Gerardo Garcia

The release sites are all positioned on the main Sweetwater ghaut. But, at release site 3 the ghaut splits into two smaller tributaries coming from the higher ground which eventually leads to the Centre Hills. We had explored much of the lower reaches of both of these tributary ghauts during our normal radio tracking. However, some frogs we had lost touch with since the release: they had moved too far too fast out of tracking range for us to keep up. Where had they gone? They weren’t in the other popular froggie hide outs, such as the ‘party pool’ where for about two weeks we regularly had the same five or six frogs hanging out there by the water. So, this Saturday we split the team and searched some far away new places in the Sweetwater area.

Principally we were looking for any signs of water, or old pools where the water had only just dried up (the dry season is upon us) giving us an indication of whether the frogs might have been in the area whilst water was present. Up until this point we had been pretty convinced that there would be no water pools higher up the tributary ghauts because of the topography and reliance of Sweetwater on rain fall to re-fill water pools, and there hadn’t been much rain at all recently. But it was a niggle at the back of our minds that we needed to check and make sure. Lo and behold up the eastern tributary ghaut we found two substantial pools, one with a mountain chicken sitting by the side!

This mystery frog was being a bit jumpy to read the PIT tag (under the skin of its back), sowe decided for the thousandth time to go through the frequencies of our missing frogs in case its transmitter was still working. To our utter astonishment the receiver started beeping loud and clear with the first signal on our list: 062. We had lost touch with this frog in the first week of the release. As soon as we’d identified it we rang the other team who were just as shocked and elated.

Hidden pool in the dry ghaut
Example of a hidden pool (bottom right of photograph) in a dry ghaut. ©Gerardo Garcia

‘This has been the best day of the release since actually setting the frogs free. Being out here for days on end searching and searching, and it eventually paying off is out of this world. I had goose bumps when we found it. And successfully catching and swabbing it, visually inspecting it to find it was very healthy – amazing.’ Izzy

– Isabel Jones


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