The Whisker Chronicles

Whiskers are also known as vibrissa, from the latin vibrare "to vibrate". Vibrissa are the specialized hairs on mammals and the bristlelike feathers near the mouths of many birds. Their resonant design is symbolic of the energies, good and bad, that are reverberating throughout the natural world. Every living thing is connected and, by birthright, deserves to exist.

Extinct in the Wild: Kihansi Spray Toad


Scientific Name: Nectophrynoides asperginis

Historic Range and Habitat:  

The Udzungwa Mountains of eastern Tanzania in a very small range that is in the spray zone of Kihansi Falls in the Kihansi Gorge.

What Kihansi Spray Toads Eat: 

Insects and other small invertebrates. 

How Long Kihansi Spray Toads Live:

Lifespan in the wild is unknown but captive Kihansi spray toads live up to three years.

Why Kihansi Spray Toads Are Extinct in the Wild: 

In 2000, a dam was constructed upstream on the Kihansi River, decreasing water flow to the gorge by 90% and significantly reducing the volume of water spray. This led to significant changes in the vegetation of the region as well, some of which were vital in supporting the life cycle of the toads. The few remaining toads were later adversely affected by the chytrid fungus and a deluge of pesticides after a brief opening of the dam’s floodgates. Predation by safari ants and crabs are thought to be a factor as well.

Conservation of Kihansi Spray Toads: 

A spray system that imitates the spray pattern of the original Kihansi Falls is now in place in the Kihansi Gorge. 

Captive breeding at Toledo Zoo and New York Bronx Zoo have been successful as evidenced by the following video showing reintroduction of captive bred Kihansi spray toads to their native habitat in 2012.  This was no easy task as captive population management and reproductive outcomes were challenged by various infections and nutritional deficiencies.  There is a rapid decline in many amphibian species all over the world, which makes this story extraordinarily encouraging.


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