This new international project and strategy was necessary after our detection of the Chytrid fungus in populations of Atelopus pulcher and the vast range extinctions of A. peruensis and A. “pachydermus” witnessed by us in 2000 at Cajamarca. But despite of the declines and extinctions in other countries, Peru still holds a big amount of new species to be discovered.
The rescue strategy includes both methods: intensive rescue management and external on site management. Currently we are monitoring original habitats of Atelopus pulcher (in severe decline due to Chytrid impact), Atelopus seminiferus (suspected Chytrid presence), Atelopus sp. nov., A. “spumarius” and A. reticulatus (possibly in severe decline).
As a subproject of the Atelopus rescue strategy we plan the general Chytrid fungus impact survey of Northern and Central Peru with a thesis project from National University Pedro Ruiz Gallo, Chiclayo- Veterinarian branch, our investigator will be Pablo Venegas. Project start is planned for the end of 2004.
The goal of the Atelopus project is to monitor the long term environmental changes in the original habitats, which are considered to trigger the Chytrid fungus outbreak. Rainer Schulte from INIBICO has however another theory, that the Chytrid fungus in South America is distributed in feathers of migrating water birds, due to the spotty pattern of infection outbreaks with long distances of several hundred to thousand km between them. At the moment, fast declines of Atelopus species are also reported from Manu National Park in the south of Peru.