Wikiri S.A. Geovanni Farina 566 y Baltra, San Rafael, Quito, Ecuador. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Little devil frog (Dendrobates sylvaticus) breed by Wikiri S. A.
Wikiri S. A. is a bio-commerce enterprise born from the necessity to help funding amphibian research and conservation in Ecuador. Wikiri commercialize amphibians and other related products (see here) for the pet and educational markets.
The amphibian extinction crisis that currently threatens the Ecuadorian amphibians (156 species included in the Red List, out of 524 known species) is unparalleled by any biodiversity crisis in human history. This crisis requires action now with new, imaginative, integrative, large magnitude and multifaceted societal efforts in order to stop and reverse the current catastrophic trends.
Wikiri is deeply committed as one of the players in this challenging task. Thus, Wikiri is a monumental and pioneering private effort striving to incorporate science, social, and environmental responsibility into the global amphibian pet trade. Wikiri profits are fully dedicated to fund amphibian research and conservation projects, forest conservation, and to support the education of children and youth in frog-diverse areas (see here).
The current amphibian pet market has its flaws and during past decades has been tarnished mainly by bad practices, the “phantom farming” and other illegitimate methods of procuring specimens for the trade. Because of the latter, actual prices of some species in the amphibian pet trade do not accurately reflect the real value of the species but represent a distortion due to the aforementioned factors. Low prices might result from either smuggling, or over-collecting large amounts to satiate the demand, while avoiding the often costly and cumbersome bureaucracy and paperwork (CITES and otherwise), which are necessary controls involved with the legal amphibian trade. It should be added that smuggling causes high mortality rates and most illegal specimens are exposed to “horrendous shipping and living conditions on the way to the market” (see Brown et al. 2011).
The Ecuafrog component of Wikiri aims to reverse this situation, serve the needs of the responsible amphibian trade, as well as counteract the illegal trade of amphibians. In this sense, prices of frogs provided by Ecuafrog of Wikiri tend to be ideal prices; incorporating in the equation the costs of production and trade at high quality standards and best practices. The accumulated values related to the needs of amphibian research and conservation, and the education of the next generation is also considered.
Shareholders of Wikiri have invested large amounts of money, time, and effort (sometimes at high life-threatening risks —see more details below in Otokiki reserve) to produce frogs (Ecuafrog) for the amphibian pet and educational markets, using the best available science and technology. In situ and ex situ facilities have been built and developed for this purpose. Also, Wikiri continuously collaborates with some of the top and most experienced Ecuadorian scientists in the fields of biology, with experience and passion for breeding and managing of frogs. Most of them work at Centro Jambatu on Amphibian Research and Conservation, in Quito, Ecuador. For example, their input has been pivotal in developing farm-raising techniques for the production of Dendrobates (Oophaga) sylvaticus, based on environmentally friendly habitat enrichment techniques, which also help in the restoration of degraded areas and the conservation of forests under serious threat. They also have applied and developed technologies for breeding highly endangered species under laboratory conditions. Among best technological practices developed, and used by Wikiri, are also the maintenance of chytrid-free frogs (a fungus that causes high mortality rates in frogs), and the use of proper diets for amphibians, specially the ones to combat metabolic bone disease, which affects many species under captive conditions.
An example of one of Wikiri´s ex situ efforts is the work being done at the Otokiki tropical rainforest Reserve on the Pacific side of the Andes (near Alto Tambo, Esmeraldas province), in the Chocoan region. This reserve is a high risk region for personnel working at the site and for any activity because of the following: the presence of trespassing forces from Colombia (FARC), as well as paramilitary forces in conflict (see here); the current presence and development of gold mining (at the artisanal and industry levels) that is devastating the forest and destroying and contaminating the river courses (see here and here); the presence of drug trafficking activities that destroy the forest for illegal harvesting (see here); the continuous deforestation caused by the timber industry and agriculture (see here), including the expansion of African palm monocultures (see here).
This reserve —(Otokiki) - managed by Foundation Otonga, a non-profit Ecuadorian research and conservation organization— is home to four of the species currently managed by Wikiri: Dendrobates (Oophaga) sylvaticus (morph Paru), Agalychnis spurrelli, Cruziohyla calcarifer, and Hypsiboas picturatus. These frogs are currently studied and managed at this reserve. Studies of these species are being conducted on their natural history and population dynamics under conditions of habitat enrichment. First results of essays are encouraging and recruitment rates at the juvenile stage are much higher than normal rates, allowing the sustainable ranching of F2 individuals for the trade and also to repopulate restored areas. A careful genetic management of these populations is being planned in order to maintain the genetic variability and viability of them.
Ecuafrog of Wikiri is setting out in the right direction. For example, so far Wikiri currently funds the discovery and description of new species to science, the study of their distribution, evolution, ecology and natural history (see more details), conservation at the Otokiki reserve (see more details) and at Sapoparque La Florida (see more details), and research and conservation projects of the Arca de los Sapos ex situ program of Jambatu center (see more details). Future, growth and persistence in the long term will depend on political, social, economic, and technical issues, as well as on how the pet market and trade improves its current practices, and how the amphibian hobbyist community throughout the world supports efforts such as Wikiri’s. Complex issues such as obtaining permits from government agencies, fear of spreading of pathogens, fears of biopiracy, bans, inability to work on conflictive areas (such as the Chocoan region in Esmeraldas province) are some of the most important threats to the amphibian trade for the hobbyist, education and research activities. These threats are challenging and are being faced by enterprises such as Wikiri —which has received Ecuadorian government permits and support after a several years-long process— and which needs the full backing and participation of the amphibian community and many other members of society.
Brown, J., Twomey, E., Amézquita, A., Caldwell, J.,Barbosa da Souza, M., Lötters, S., Von May, R., Melo-Sampaio, P., Mejía-Vargas, D.,Pérez-Peña, P., Pepper, M., Poelman, E.,Sánchez-Rodríguez, M., Summers, K. 2011. A taxonomic revision of the Neotropical poison frog genus Ranitomeya (Amphibia: Dendrobatidae). Zootaxa 3083:1–120. Link
Arca de los Sapos ex situ program for endangered amphibians in Quito, Ecuador; partially supported by Wikiri S.A.
In situ farm at the Otokiki reserve, Provincia de Esmeraldas. Habitat enrichment for Dendrobates sylvaticus.
Pacific big-mouthed toad (Ceratophrys stolzmanni) breed by Wikiri S. A.
Gravid female of Andean Marsupial frog (Gastrotheca riobambae) breed by Wikiri S. A.