On March 18th, 2016 I flew on an overnight flight from Cusco, Peru to Asunción, Paraguay. Frederick Bauer of the Asociación Paraguaya de Herpetología met me at the airport and took me to my hotel, where I ate breakfast and rested until the afternoon. I changed money and then caught a taxi to the Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales at the Universidad Nacional de Asunción, Paraguay’s largest university. I was greeted by eight undergraduate biology students with backpacks and rubber boots. My host Andrea Gabriaguez gave me a quick tour of the Faculty and introduced me to her professors, who generously presented me with a copy of their field guide “Anfibios Del Paraguay” (for which I will soon have a digital copy they granted me permission to distribute to the SAVE THE FROGS community!).
An official university van picked our group up and we headed east to Tobati, a 90-minute drive into the Chaco Húmido (Wet Chaco) ecosystem. Tobati is an inhabited valley with steep cliffsides on either side. We got dropped off at a farm (La Perla) where we set up our tents. We walked down the road a kilometer to eat pizza at the base of a cliff and then we put on our headlamps and climbed up a rocky path. The moon lit our way, and the constellations Scorpio, Orion and the Southern Cross were visible along with the Milky Way.
We were specifically in search of Leptodactylus syphax, a frog that lives in Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay. In Paraguay, it’s only known population lives in this rocky area of Tobati. The cliffs have made it difficult for people to inhabit the upland areas, so the land on top makes great habitat for amphibians. It wasn’t long before we heard a loud chorus of frogs calling from some rocky pools. There were lots of Dendropsophus minutus calling from the vegetation above the pools: