The skin of the golden poison dart frogs is deadly. The toxin on the frogs’ skin is so powerful that once ingested it prevents human nerves from transmitting impulses. The victim’s muscles go into spasm, followed by heart failure and death. Even handling the frog for a few minutes can numb your hands.
The Chocó Emberá Indians brush their darts across the frogs’ backs to poison them, and the darts can remain deadly for more than two years.
The dart frogs’ existence is threatened by gold mining. Illegal miners pour cyanide into streams, and the cyanide kills everything in the waterway, including the frogs.
The frogs have been listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Their natural habitat is the Chocó forest along the Pacific coast of western Colombia, and now, a 124-acre nature reserve has been created to provide sanctuary to the frogs. The reserve is owned and managed by Fundación ProAves, a conservation organization.
The reserve was funded in part by the World Land Trust, American Bird Conservancy and Global Wildlife Conservation. It is part of a larger project called the Chocó-Andean Rainforest Corridor, which will connect multiple highly threatened habitats, from the Pacific coast to the peaks of the western Andes.