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Rainbow toad reappears after 87 years

An adult female Borneo Rainbow Toad, also referred to as Sambas Stream Toad (Ansonia latidisca); approximately 51 mm in length has been photographed for the first time. © Indraneil Das/

A ‘rainbow toad’ not seen in 87 years has been spotted in the forests of Borneo and photographed for the very first time.

The Sambas Stream Toad, or Bornean Rainbow Toad (Ansonia latidisca) was listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as one of the ‘World’s Top 10 Most Wanted Lost Frogs’ and has not been seen since 1924.

A team led by Dr. Indraneil Das of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak made the discovery after months of combing thick jungle, according to conservationist group Conservation International.

Dr Das, whose other achievements include the discovery in Borneo of a frog the size of a pea, said the initial long-lost toad sighting was made by one of his graduate students, Pui Yong Min.

“Thrilling discoveries like this beautiful toad, and the critical importance of amphibians to healthy ecosystems, are what fuel us to keep searching for lost species,” Dr. Das said in a statement on the Conservation International website.

“They remind us that nature still holds precious secrets that we are still uncovering, which is why targeted protection and conservation is so important. Amphibians are indicators of environmental health, with direct implications for human health. Their benefits to people should not be underestimated.”

Conservation International’s amphibian specialist, Dr. Robin Moore, who launched the Global Search for Lost Amphibians that inspired Dr Das, said the discovery was a major breakthrough.

“When I saw an email with the subject ‘Ansonia latidisca found’ pop into my inbox I could barely believe my eyes. Attached was an image - proof in the form of the first ever photograph of the colourful and gangly tree-dwelling toad,” she said.

“The species was transformed in my mind from a black and white illustration to a living, colourful creature.”

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