Let the FUNds begin!



After three weeks in Cochabamba, we’ve finally settled in to working at the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative (BAI). We’ve been taught by a passionate team of young scientists how to care for the frogs in captive breeding, analyze water quality, and catch frogs in the wild and swab for chytrid fungus. We have been submerged in research papers and manuals on the biological and conversation history of Bolivian amphibian species. We have learned so much, I just can help but share some “did you knows”:

Did you know…
…Bolivia is home to more than 209 amphibian species, 45 of which are endemic to Bolivia (meaning they live nowhere else but here!)
…Nearly 30% of the endemic species are considered threatened, endangered or critically endangered of facing extinction.
…These species are headed towards extinction faster than scientists can learn how to save them.
…The greatest threats to these amazing and diverse creatures are habitat loss (thank you Homo sapiens), pollution and a newly-emerging-rapidly-spreading-suffocating-fungal-infection called chytridiomycosis (poor frogs!)
…One of the critically endangered species is the Lake Titicaca frog and looks like this: 20120801-115104.jpg

pretty wild, huh?
…The Lake Titicaca frog is suspected to have originated from the age of the dinosaurs, but is disappearing as fast as you can “evolutionary icon” as its only habitat is this bordering lake between Bolivia and Peru.
…The mission of BAI is to protect this species (among others) and educate local communities on their ecological significance.
…We’re here to help them do that!!

For the 13 weeks, we will be working on a few major projects to help BAI fulfill their mission:

Project 1 – Collect data on Lake Titicaca frog
My primary focus will be to collect data on Bolivia’s most treasured specie. For this, I will be traveling with BAI to Lake Titicaca (about 14 hours from Cochabamba) at least twice to swab frogs for the chytrid fungus, measure population density and health, measure water quality parameters throughout the lake, and determine the major sources of contamination. My goal is to develop an overlay of GIS maps in order to display all this data and publish it to the BAI website.

Project 2 – Develop educational workshops and training materials
Jeremy will be improving the educational materials for the natural history museum and helping BAI develop and lead educational workshops for children and adults in rural communities around Lake Titicaca.

Project 3 – Promote and improve the amphibian exhibits at the Museum
Throughout the next couple of months, Jeremy and I will also be collecting video footage to create an educational video for the museum aquarium display. We’ll also be gathering supplies and recruiting other volunteers to help build an outdoor frog pond surrounded by a garden of native flora – the museums first outdoor exhibit.

Project 4 – Fundraise
And finally, given that nothing in life is free (in fact, everything is usually more expensive than you expect), I will be heading up some major fundraising and grant writing initiatives from our humble office in the museum – which has been without running water for a week now, I might add.

All of this will require a lot of time and work on our part and a lot of resources, so it’s time for the FUNraising to begin! Unfortunately, BAI does not have the resources to fund all of these projects and much of their research, educational, and office equipment is broken or insufficient for producing good results. I am working with the director of BAI to develop a “wish list”, but in short we will need a lot of new equipment (GPS, nets, underwater cameras and notepads, a portable DVD player, a color printer, and more).

If you would like to be a part of our efforts, please make a donation to Sustainable Bolivia and include “BAI” or “Jeremy and Julie” in the description. 100% of your donation will be go to supporting our projects and helping BAI protect some of world’s most incredible biodiversity. Through small grants and private donations we are aiming to raise $2,500 by the end of August.

Through Sustainable Bolivia, Jeremy and I will be donating $600 to support the projects of BAI. We also must give a big Thank You to the generous people of Seventh Generation who donated $311 to BAI upon my departure.

I never realized how much I cared about frogs until I came here and started to dive deeper into the issue. When I think about, a world without frogs would be horrible. Mosquitos would fill the air like the plague, snakes, fish and birds would go hungry (or turn on something else for food), there would be no ambiance of chirping and croking to lull you to sleep, no critters to collect and admire as children, lily pads would be lonely, and thousands of medicinal discoveries would be lost.

If you’re like me and simply can’t imagine a world without frogs, new discoveries, or the rich biodiversity that makes this planet so incredible, please give a little to help us help them.

See what else BAI has accomplished by clicking here


Frog photos courtesy of Arturo Munoz, BAI