Biodiversity challenge – Cave squeaker

1962: Bittersweet sixteen

Amphibian freak
Playing hide and seek
On a mountain peak
In Mozambique.
Cave-dwelling clique
Oozing frog mystique,
On a losing streak
Up troglodyte creek.
Signal weak,
Prognosis bleak.
No audible squeak,
Just a silent shriek.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Species profile: Cave squeaker

IUCN Red List Category: Critically Endangered

The only record of the cave squeaker is from 1962, when 16 frogs were collected from caves and sinkholes high in the Chimanimani Mountains on the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Virtually nothing is known about the behaviour of this mysterious and elusive species or how it has adapted to its cave habitat. Other squeaker frog species undergo a complete metamorphosis from embryo to froglet without leaving the eggs, which are laid out of water in a damp location. In over 50 years of searching, scientists have failed to find a single cave squeaker, but the frog is small, inconspicuous and clearly very rare, so some hope of relocating it still remains. As a montane species, its long-term survival could be jeopardised by climate change.

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