Salamanders Lost, Found and Saved

A long-limbed Salamander, Nyctanolis pernix, one of the targets of our expedition to the Cuchumatanes mountains.

This article is brought to you by the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). Read our other articles on the National Geographic Voices blog featuring the work of our iLCP Fellow Photographers all around the world.

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An expedition to find species missing for decades in the remote cloud forests of northwest Guatemala leads to a new sanctuary for rare and elusive salamanders. Below is a first hand account of the expedition and resulting conservation success. Text and photos (unless otherwise noted) by Robin Moore. Robin is a Senior Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, conservation officer with Global Wildlife Conservation and the Amphibian Survival Alliance, and the author of In Search of Lost Frogs.

A long-limbed Salamander, Nyctanolis pernix, one of the targets of our expedition to the Cuchumatanes mountains.

“We called it the golden wonder”, says Jeremy Jackson, reminiscing about a salamander that he was the first, and last, to find in the wild 38 years ago. I found the first one under a sheet of bark in a field and, after collecting in this field for weeks without success it was obviously something unusual. What the few photos of Jackson’s Climbing Salamander, Bolitoglossa jacksoni, that exist don’t show is the brilliance and depth of the coloration. It was an exceptionally beautiful animal”.

Jackson’s Climbing Salamander, Bolitoglossa jacksoni, last seen in 1977 in the remote cloud forests of Guatemala and one of the ten “Most Wanted” amphibians in the world. © Sam Sweet

I am standing with Jackson in the cloud forests of the Cuchumatanes mountains in northwest Guatemala where he had discovered the elusive salamander almost four decades ago – but what had brought him here in the first place? His good friend, Paul Elias. Elias had ventured to Guatemala for the —> Read More

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