Conservation

CONSERVATION

The Bufo Alvarius toad is native to the Sonoran desert and the secretions of the toad produce Bufotenine and 5-Methoxy-Dimethyltryptamine (5-MeO-DMT), which is currently of interest to science, the shamanic & medicine community globally. Human interest in the toad secretions has seen an anecdotal surge in interest with many competing groups hunting and harvesting the toad venom in its native habitat. We do not condone or support toad handling or disrupting them in their environment and breeding cycle. We understand that human intervention is having a serious impact on toad populations.

Their habitat is also under pressure from global warming /climate shift, and concern has been raised for the long term viability of the toad in the wild. The Terra Incognita Project is working with herpetologists, environmentalists, tribal people and cultural leaders to establish conservation ethics and practices to protect the Bufo Alvarius toad in its native Sonoran desert habitat, to develop conservation sites for toads, and to encourage best handling practices that support toad health and sustainability, whilst encouraging the community to practice respect and restraint around these creatures.

Please find below some information on our previous conservation efforts, and reports on public funding towards these endeavors.

 

2016 BUFO ALVARIUS SUSTAINABIILITY STUDY

In 2016 Terra Incognita members undertook an initial survey of a small area of the Sonoran desert in Mexico to better understand Bufo Alvarius to a populations and their sustainability.

PROJECT STAGES:

  1. To ascertain in broad strokes the presence of the Bufo Alvarius toad population in the Sonoran desert, starting with a manageable sample population in a micro-area of their breeding grounds around Hermosillo, TBD.
  2. To document evidence of human interaction in this sample population (ie, have others milked the toads already in this cycle, from which we can draw conclusions about scale of harvesting practices)

We were working in concert with the indigenous Seri Tribe around Punta Chuca who were reintroduced to the toad medicine and act as caretakers for the medicine in this bio-region. We ensured ethical considerations were met and all licenses for the legal exploration of the lands and engagement with the toads were satisfied with regional authorities. A small harvesting of toad medicine was conducted as part of the expedition, with some samples also sent on to labs for bio-assay research.

OUTCOMES

  • To attain a localized data sample of size of toads population in the Sonoran desert to ascertain vulnerability to climate and human interference.
  • To examine the secretions of the Bufo Alvarius toad from that sample region in that season and bio-assay for more data on variations and concentrations of the active 5MEO properties.
  • To create a template and framework with this micro-study for a larger conservation study of larger regions within the Sonoran Desert and larger representations of the Bufo Alvarius population.
  • To establish relationships and agreements between the indigenous caretakers (Seri, Tohono, etc Tribes) of the land for best management practices of the Bufo Alvarius toads.

 

2017 TOAD CONSERVATION PROJECT

We acknowledge that any long-term conservation program for Incilius alvarius must address the multiple factors contributing to global amphibian decline as well as local issues affecting the toads across the entirety of their range including:

➢ Habitat loss
➢ Environmental contamination/pesticides
➢ Pathogens (specifically amphibian chytrid fungus, Bd)
➢ Climate change
➢ Overharvesting/poaching and other human impacts

This pilot study will begin to address these issues by meeting the following objectives:

➢ Gather baseline health, distribution and breeding data from Arizona study populations
➢ Develop proper handling techniques that minimize risks to toads
➢ Strengthen stakeholder partnerships to support conservation efforts
➢ Review existing research, analyze data and report findings
➢ Identify future priorities and inform long-term research design

Funding of US$ 13,500 was raised in 2017  for the first phase of this study. Donations to the Terra Incognita Project are tax-deductible and funds went directly towards travel, lodgings, wages and logistical support for researchers to undertake a sustainability pilot study in August, 2017 in Arizona, and to establish frameworks for further growth and connection to the Mexican research. See more at: http://www.terra-incognita-project.org/toad-conservation-project/

Read the full eight page TCP 2017 public report here:

TCP-REPORT2017-publicnotes

 

Public information on Best Handling Practices for the Bufo Alvarius toad can be found here: (forthcoming).