400,000 m² of protected rainforest in Peru (Yurimaguas)

The habitat of the once lost “Fantastic Treehugger”

As part of our trip through Amazonia in March 2022, we visited a special place on earth. The home of the Fantastic Tree Steiger. An island of forest measuring just a few hectares that is apparently about to suffer the same fate as its immediate surroundings. The ground vegetation that had already been cut in some places only led to the conclusion that clearing was soon to take place in favor of palm oil fields and cattle pastures. This would mean that the frog, which was believed to be extinct until 2011, is actually dying out just 11 years after its rediscovery. It is Ranitomeya Fantastica in the -nominate- color variant. A frog the size of a thumbnail, which is in no way inferior to the colorfulness of colorful macaws.

Contact and further discussions with the owner led nowhere. Absurd ideas about the selling price made us take a different path. Not only did we not have the money or would not have been able to find it in time, we did not want anyone to take advantage of our concern for nature and its creatures to make a healthy living. So we sent Josh Allen, our guide from the documentary trip and now an integral part of Plant for Futures, out to find a forest for a potential relocation of the animals. The sensation came at the third attempt. We receive a WhatsApp video call in which Josh describes the possibility of a relocation site with the owner of a forest. Josh is approaching the ground when suddenly a strikingly beautifully colored frog scurries through the foliage. There couldn’t have been a better script. A sensation among poison dart frog enthusiasts and a huge stroke of luck for us. Pack up and off we go to Peru!

Not that we distrusted Josh, but we had to see for ourselves and, above all, meet the salespeople. 3 weeks later we were standing in this forest in Loreto. Significantly larger and therefore healthier than all previous forest areas. Not to mention the potential for expansion through the purchase of additional plots. Now it was a matter of confirming Josh’s discovery in the first instance. Less than 10 minutes into the forest, an animal of the species Ranitomeya imitator thrilled us. 1 hour and five other poison dart frog species later, our comrade-in-arms Manu, far from knowing anything about frogs, asks us to “come and have a look”. “The frog looks different from the previous ones.” Indeed! We have the right forest. We couldn’t have been happier. The following days were spent mapping it, providing it with GPS coordinates and meeting the vendors in the forest and at the negotiating table. We have now concluded preliminary contracts for 40 hectares and made advance payments. What we need is the rest of the purchase price. Money for lawyers, notaries, surveyors and our ranger. Augusto, himself no innocent when it comes to deforestation, has changed sides and is now our ranger. He knows the area, the neighbors and, above all, the mentality. With his help, we are taking the first steps towards a protected area that does not yet exist in this region. The forests in this part of Peru could be described as being infested with shooting traps. But that should not stop us. These forest remnants are too species-rich and valuable.

Our plans for the future include a protected area covering several square kilometers. Turning fragments into one. A big forest! Help us and save a piece of the precious Amazon rainforest!