Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

RICHARD FREEMAN: Trinidad Golden Tree Frog remains elusive

March 2010, and conservationists from Paignton Zoo have returned from Trinidad where they were searching for the critically endangered golden tree frog.

The golden tree frog (Phyllodytes auratus) is endemic to Trinidad. Its natural habitat of tropical forest is often shrouded in cool, misty cloud cover. It is found only at the summits of two mountains: El Cerro del Aripo and El Tucuche, the two highest peaks in Trinidad.

The frog is closely associated with a plant, the giant bromeliad Glomeropitcairnia erectiflora. Water collects between the leaves - the frogs lay their eggs and the tadpoles develop entirely within these pools. The golden tree frog is threatened by habitat loss and is listed by the IUCN as critically endangered.

Mike Bungard, Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, teamed up with Dr David Stradling, the chair of trustees of the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, the charity that runs Paignton Zoo.

The field trip was designed to pave the way for vital work with endangered amphibians in the future. Mike said: "One of the hardest things is building trust with local communities and establishing contact with local experts - it makes life much easier when you have someone who knows the country."

Dr. Stradling is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society and was on the academic staff of both the University of the West Indies and the University of Exeter. He is an expert in leaf cutter ants and has advised both the BBC Natural History Unit and Oxford Scientific Films.

The pair stayed at the Asa Wright Nature Centre, a world-class field station set up in 1967 and one of the first nature centres in the Caribbean. They visited the University of the West Indies to speak with staff and with a research student who is conducting surveys on frogs.

Mike: "Our aim was to check the site, review field techniques and speak to relevant people at the University of the West Indies. They are really the only people who are doing any work at all on these frogs.

"UWI showed interest in the project. We hope to develop close links with both them and the Trinidadian Wildlife Division in order to make the project a success. With their help we can develop a programme to protect this rare species, which may include captive breeding."

Mike said: "We didn't see any in the wild, which was very disappointing. There is a lot of work that desperately needs doing - Paignton Zoo could make all the difference when it comes to saving this species."

Paignton Zoo's Amphibian Ark species rescue and reintroduction centre, which opened in August 2009, was built to help save species in Madagascar, Tanzania and Trinidad. The work will include a mix of field work and conservation breeding at the Zoo. Out of the world's 6,000 known amphibian species, 32% are threatened with extinction, compared to 22% of mammal species.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

On this day in 1916 Albert Einstein published the general theory of relativity.

And now, the news:

New dinosaur species unearthed by students
Psychedelic sea slugs photographed
Give a dog a home
Pillow paw
NASA discovers life hidden 600 feet below Antarctic ice
'Hobbit' Island Shows Signs of Ancient Civilization
Polar bear trade ban is rejected
DNA from Pitbull dog used for first time to trap killer
Fly Guys
Unique Peek
Bird Brains
Owner pays €50,000 for chemotherapy for her dying pet

What do you give a sick bird?