Andinobates victimatus - front view, Uraba, Colombia
This observation is our main trophy from Uraba, and in many ways of our entire 2017 trip, for both its natural value and its symbolic value. This species is locally endemic to the Northwest of Colombia and had only been described 6 months earlier.
The symbolic value is in its naming, victimatus, dedicated to the victims of armed conflict in this poor area of Colombia. It also radiates a sense of hope, as the scientist discovering and describing the species is a young Afro-Colombian born in this region. Against all odds, he managed to escape poverty and a lack of opportunity, and turned it into this.
A few minutes before this observation, we had a strange encounter with illegal goldminers coming our way from the narrow forest path. Some greeted us when passing by, yet one insisted on stopping straight in front of me, and giving me a death stare for a solid 10 seconds. Which I returned. Not a word was said, but they were clearly not happy with our presence, even less so because of our cameras. Continuing, we could see signs of an improvised camp further down the path, and our guide shared that its probably not a good idea to find out if there's any weapons there.
So we turned around, and whilst walking back I was contemplating in my mind what just happened. An unfortunate non-event, or a life threatening one. That thought was washed away instantly when our guide found this frog.
Given how "new" this species is to science, I'm going to be generous in sharing many shots. As an ethical disclaimer, we found this frog in the bushes on what looks like a Bromeliad plant. It was located based on its call. However, as the scene was very dark and obscured, our guide picked it up, and then we put it on a large leaf on the forest floor for some better shots. It was then placed back exactly where it came from.
Personally, we find the symbolic value of this observation the most valuable. We've come to love and deeply respect Colombia and its stunning wildlife and will be going back for a 3rd round later this year. This country deserves a far better reputation than it has, it is awesome, full of potential, and well into its next chapter, one of hope and pride.
Andinobates victimatus is a poison dart frog from the Urabá region of Northwestern Colombia. It was first described by Pablo Palacios in 2017. The victimatus name is dedicated to the victims of the armed conflicts plaguing the Urabá region.