The Karpathos water frog is an islander twice over. It not only lives on the island of Karpathos, SE Aegean, but also inhabits only scattered, fragmented areas – islets, as it were – on that island.
The locals call it ‘vatraklo’. According to the older residents of island, the Karpathos water frog could be found throughout the island until the 1960s, although it was never very common. However, its presence started becoming very limited in the early 1980s. Today, the frog is found, in small populations, in a very few ravines on the northern side of the island.
The Karpathos water frog (Pelophylax cerigensis) is a Greek endemic species, occurring only in the island of Karpathos, Greece. It is also listed as the most endangered species of frog in Europe. It is threatened – very seriously, if mainly indirectly – by loss or degradation of its habitat.
As is the case with other amphibian species that are doubly isolated – in small, scattered wetlands on islands – they have little potential to extend their range. Although the isolation of its habitats protect it it from possible man-made threats, the repercussions of climate change are creating a number of threats that, due to the species limited range, directly threaten the whole population.
Did you know that...
... each species of frog can be identified by its unique call frequency? Similar to fingerprints for humans.
In the context of the LIFΕ-IP 4 NATURA project, we worked with the Animal Diversity research team at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens to draw up a comprehensive Action Plan to protect the Karpathos water frog. Among other things, the Action Plan provides a detailed description of the threats and pressures this rare species is facing, as well as the measures that need to be taken if the population is to recover.
The relevant research describes how the repercussions of climate change, including worsening of the natural droughts in the eastern Mediterranean – as well as emergency risks, such as sudden, very heavy storms – can degrade or destroy the streams where the Karpathos frog makes its home.
One of the measures we propose is the conservation and restoration of the frog habitat, including cleaning, small-scale technical interventions, and restoration of water supply. We also propose the improvement of the protection status of the species in Greece and the institutional protection of the areas where it lives, along with the construction of new micro-wetlands to make it easier for the species to extend its range. Provisions have also been made for information and awareness campaigns.
We are in open dialogue with local stakeholders in Karpathos to ensure that the implementation of the Action Plan – following its approval by the Ministry of Environment and Energy, as well as the assessment of the proposed measures – will be as effective as possible.
Follow the ‘Edo zoume – Natura 2000’ campaign to get all the news about the Karpathos frog as well as the unique Natura 2000 network and its importance.
Natura 2000 sites are the heart of nature conservation in Greece and the European Union. They serve as a protective shield for endangered species and areas of high conservation value, ensuring the necessary balance between people and nature. The first Life Integrated Project (LIFE IP 4 NATURA) approved for Greece is the most important project in recent decades for the protection of Greece’s natural environment.Learn more about the campaign