During a recent trip to Suriname, I was able to spend a few days at the Nassau Mountains in the northeastern part of the country. This small (ca. 20 x 20 square kilometers), isolated mountain range consists of four plateaus with a maximum elevation of about 570 m. As these mountains are home to two endemic subspecies of beautifully colored anurans, the target was clear.The Orange-striped Poison Frog (Ameerega trivittata nassaui), an orange colored subspecies of the Three-striped Poison Frog (Ameerega trivittata) was very abundant. These large poison dart frogs can be seen and heard almost everywhere during the day. The Nassau Harlequin Toad (Atelopus hoogmoedi nassaui), a purple/pink colored subspecies of the Hoogmoed Harlequin Toad (Atelopus hoogmoedi), was less evident to find. We were however lucky to meet two young Dutch researchers, who were studying the behavior of this particular species. With their help and a long day of searching, I was able to observe and photograph this remarkable toad.
Both of these subspecies only occur around Nassau and these plateaus form the habitat of several more unique animals and plants, as was shown in a Rapid Biological Assessment conducted in 2005 (pdf report). Unfortunately a lot of small-scale gold mining is present in the area, with associated pollution and habitat destruction. There also have been plans for large-scale bauxite mining for several years now, although it remains unclear if and when this will commence. As these mining activities heavily impact their habitat, (partial) protection of these forests is urgently needed to ensure the survival of these remarkable animals. Below you can see a selection of pictures of both of these beautiful creatures and their habitat.