For 10 years, a lonely frog hasn't been able to find his Juliet to continue the survival of his species. Now, thanks to modern-day methods, online dating may be answer to his croaks.
Oh Romeo, Romeo… Can we find(eth) thee love?
This is the dilemma facing Romeo - a critically endangered Sehuencas water frog (Telmatobius yuracare) from South America.
In 2008, Romeo came into the hands of biologists hoping to commence a breeding program to help increase the species’ declining numbers and avoid extinction. With no mate to breed with, Romeo has been resigned to a life of solitude for the past 10 years.
But that may soon change if online dating can solve Romeo’s problems.
Declining numbers: frog species critical
Native to Bolivia, Sehuencas once lived in small mountain streams in the Yungas cloud rainforest. Tadpoles could be found in relatively large numbers in alpine marshes and crystal clear waters with the species found in at least 10 different locations. But like many other amphibian species in recent times, Sehuencas numbers began to decline.
Since Romeo’s captivity, no other Sehuencas (male or female) have been found in the wild and biologists have become increasingly concerned for the welfare and longevity of Romeo and his breed. Like many other amphibian species, it is believed the devastating disease chytridiomycosis may be at play.
But Romeo still appears to hold some form of hope he will find love.
“Romeo started to call for a mate about a year after he was brought into captivity, but those calls have slowed in the last few years,” Arturo Muñoz, founder of the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative, said.
While some believe Romeo may be the last of his species and are worried that the Sehuencas may die out with him, one group has not given up hope.
Romeo the frog tries online dating
After a decade of looking and not a single Sehuencas to be found, environmental group Global Wildlife Conservation has decided to take a different approach to Romeo’s hunt for love, turning to more “modern” methods - online dating.
With Valentine’s Day only a couple of days away, Global Wildlife Conservation has paired up with online dating site Match to raise the profile of Romeo and hopefully find his Juliet. With an online dating profile designed to attract interest, the campaign will then launch a series of expeditions to areas where biologists hope other Sehuencas may still live and be found.
“We don’t want him [sic] to lose hope, and we continue to remain hopeful that others are out there so we can establish a conservation breeding program to save this species,” Arturo said.
It’s a unique approach but one worth taking to help keep this species alive. Even more so now with the Bolivian government set to build a dam in Romeo’s natural environment.
Photo & video credits: IFLS & YouTube
We hope Romeo finds his Juliet!
(Story update: Romeo + Juliet: a pair of star-frogged lovers)