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A Scientist at the CSIR-Forestry Research Institute of Ghana has announced the discovery of a new frog species to science that is only found in Ghana and nowhere else in the world.

With a total body length of less than 30mm, approximately the size of a match box, this brown and black colored frog is among the smallest amphibians on our planet.

In a scientific study published in the German-based peer reviewed scientific journal Zootaxa, the CSIR scientist, Dr. Caleb Ofori-Boateng and Dr. Bright Kankam who made this discovery explained that this new frog species is different from all other known frog species based on a combination of both genetic and physical (morphological) differences that include distinct color patterns, body shape and size.

Speaking to Bernard Buachi of www.rawgist.com, Dr. Caleb Ofori-Boateng explained that, he found the first individual of this species in a small forest patch less than the size of half a football park, along a forest stream near the small little town of Jukwa, near the Kakum National Park, in the central region of Ghana.

Additional individuals of the species were later found in the Atewa Hills Forest Reserve where the scientists believe houses the most significant population of this frog. Dr. Ofori-Boateng further added that, “although frogs are very beneficial to the environment and humans, our actions are wiping a lot of these species out of existence on a global scale”. He further explained that, frogs are potential cure to HIV/AIDS and can contribute to reducing the prevalence of malaria by feeding on mosquito larvae and entreated the public to support frog conservation.

The new frog species, Phrynobatrachus afiabirago, has been named after the mother of the lead author (Dr. Caleb Ofori-Boateng), Madam Afia Birago due to her love for nature and struggles she overcame to raise him and his siblings. Madam Afia Birago, 67, is the surviving widow of the late Poku Ofori Amanfo, who whilst alive was a passionate wildlife protection officer at the Mole National Park. Madam Afia Birago is mother to seven other children including Richard Ofori- Amanfo who is a Park Manager at the Bia National Park.

The Fumesua-based Forestry Research Institute of Ghana is one of 13 research institutes under Ghana’s council for scientific and industrial research with the legal mandate of conducting high quality user-focused research to support the sustainable management of Ghana’s forest resources. CSIR-FORIG scientist worked alongside reputable scientist and organizations to describe the new species including Prof. Mark Oliver Rödel and Prof. Adam Leaché of the natural history museum, Berlin and University of Washington respectively.

Other interesting facts

• The first time a frog has been named after a Ghanaian

• The new frog species can only be found in Ghana

• Mining of the Atewa Hills forest reserve will most likely destroy the entire global population of this frog.

-Bernard Buachi

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