013 – ivory (coast) madonna

Goliath frog and friendsA friend of ours sent this lovely image and I was immediately struck by how beautiful it was – something that the lyrical precision of Botticelli might’ve highlighted – if he’d ever got past that pomegranate, or Da Vinci might’ve coded if he’d so felt.

I don’t have a great love affair with cats. In fact, I don’t like them at all. They have caused the extinction of native birds here in New Zealand (before your comments fingers go ballistic, the Steven’s Island Wren), and I’m sorry, cat lovers everywhere, for me that rates cats as being pretty much non-starters. One of the (many) attractions about my wife is she’s allergic to cats – what more could a man ask for? Smart, beautiful and doesn’t like cats – purfect.

Getting back to Goliath Frogs (Conraua goliath) – yes, the frog in the picture probably is the real McCoy – although to be fair, the world’s largest frogs come from isolated rivers in the rain forests of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea rather than the Ivory Coast. According to nationalgeographic.com Mbo tribesmen believe the frogs are wizards of sacred waterfalls. I’m convinced – it seems pretty wizard-like to me. The American Museum of Natural History say that Goliath frogs are mute. They have no vocal sac. Their habitat is being reduced in all the usual cliche ways, while they’ve always been somewhat uncommon, they’re now rare. Rare equals expensive: an adult goliath frog has sold for as much as $3,000 in America, although the collecting frenzy now seems to have abated. A 1991 survey found goliath frogs in only two U.S. zoos. Sadly, Goliath frogs don’t breed or survive well in captivity. One of the key reasons for this is a particular species of plant, Dicraea warmingii warmingii which covers the rocks among the cascades and rapids where the Goliaths live and breed is the exclusive food source of the tadpoles in the first weeks of their larval stage. The only real hope for their survival is the preservation of wild populations.

Don’t like cats. Do like frogs.

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