In Venezuela, several species call the country’s tepuis their home. However, changing environments and human actions are threatening their habitat there – particularly for the amphibians.
A tepui is a tabletop mountain seen in many parts of South America, especially in Venezuela and western Guyana. The term “tepui” translates to “house of the gods” in the native language of the Permon, the indigenous people who inhabit the area.
There are over 50 tepuis in Venezuela alone. These mountains once inspired Arthur Conan Doyle’s science fiction novel, “The Lost World.”
These tepuis are home to some of the rarest and strangest creatures in the world. Among them are amphibians only seen by a few people, such as toads that roll into balls instead of hop, and frogs dwelling in carnivorous plants.
Venezuela’s tepuis are a beauty for these creatures, until they are threatened by changes in the surroundings.
These threats include the proliferation of illegal mining in the rainforests of Venezuela, a lethal fungus that is decimating amphibian populations not just in the country, but across Latin America – and climate change, of course.
According to a study published in Nature this month, amphibians are the world’s most endangered vertebrates, paving the way to their extinction.
These tepui frogs, in particular, cannot do what other animals and plants are doing to evade these threats, which is to slowly climb up altitudes as temperatures rise, putting them at more risk to extinction, said Margarita Lampo, an ecologist at the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research.
These amphibians are more susceptible to extinction than mammals, birds, and reptiles, researches add. Their cold-bloodedness makes them more vulnerable to changes in temperature. For salamanders, frogs, and newts that have porous skin, this makes them highly sensitive to pollution, and just to tiny swings in temperature and humidity.
It’s time for the world to take action.
“The most tragic thing about losing these frogs is not just that they are unique and beautiful. It would be like setting fire to a library full of books that exist nowhere else and that no one has ever read,” Lampo added.