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“Save Ithaca’s Green Toad” project

A short introduction to the project

Some decades ago the Green Toad was a very common amphibian on Odysseus’ island, Ithaca. But something went really wrong in the 90’s and the species started to decline fast! It seems that a massive and extensive use of pesticides in the 90’s, in combination with the loss of Green Toad’s breeding sites on the island, led the amphibian to the threat of extinction. Until three years ago several researchers, as well as the locals, considered the species as extinct. But then, in 2016, the species surprisingly reappeared when two individuals were found by some locals from Anogi and Vathy. It was clear to us that the species was still alive on the island, in a residual population that was trying to survive, and it was even more clear that we had to act fast! So with the help of donors we gathered money and built four ponds in Anogi and Vathy as breeding spots for the remaining toads. Unfortunately there were no toads shown to our new breeding ponds in 2017 and this indicates the extremely low numbers of the island’s population.

This year's goals

So this year’s goal was to search thoroughly throughout the island for alive individuals or maybe small isolated populations that might have survived, so to protect them and help them multiply. A scenario in which toads were transferred from another area in Greece was out of the plan for a bunch of reasons, like the danger of a genetic contamination/pollution as the DNA of the island’s population has never been analyzed and compared, and the risk of transferring dangerous pathogens on the island, like the Chytrid fungus which has recently discovered in Greek mainland. Other than that, we had to maintain and recover our four artificial ponds.

Vathy as seen from Anogi

Immediately after our arrival on Ithaca in March 2018, and after we thoroughly inspected satellite images of the island and had suggestions from the locals for possible suitable breeding sites, we started searching, by day and night. The first few days were extremely disappointing. Even though we spotted ideal breeding sites and suitable habitats for the Green Toad, such as the beach of Stavros, where the locals remember thousands of toads 20 years ago, there was no sign of the species, anywhere! How can the Green Toad be absent from such ideal conditions? What happened in the past that caused the extinction of the species from these ideal habitats? The cause according to the locals was one and only: "Massive pesticide spraying in the 1990s, in some cases even with helicopters"! Surely a subject that needs to be surveyed thoroughly in order to find out if there is any correlation with the species’ decline.

Click on the images to open

Stravros beach

Ideal habitat for Green Toads but nothing...

Searching in wells

Frikes area

Nothing here at Frikes too...

A harmless adult scorpion of genus Euscorpius found during the survey.

Searching by night

A Cephallonian Slow Worm, a harmless legless lizard with a bad reputation.

A Leopard Snake shown to a shepherd. An animal with a bad reputation too, completely harmless to humans.

The only snake with a dangerous bite on the island, the Nose-horned Viper.

Unfortunately, besides all that, we had to repair our two most promising ponds, those of Anogi village. One of them had been shot, probably inadvertently by a hunter, while the other one had two large holes too. The holes were patched, but they had already caused a lot of damage as they kept the ponds empty for a long time.

In addition, we placed two devices that reproduce the male Green Toad’s calling in two of our ponds and another one that records and analyzes looking for real callings of the species in other areas. Unfortunately with no positive results in both cases.

The pond at Anogi that had been shot

Disappointment on the sight of the damaged and empty pond

Reconstruction begins

the 2nd pond at Anogi, also damaged

Keep on searching!

Quick solutions to our daily problems. We got to carry on! :)

A joyful surprise!

We were more and more disappointed, when suddenly something really cool happened! After lot of conversations with shepherds that know the area really well and lot of searching day and night, we finally spotted a female Green Toad roaming outside in heavy rain by night! We were close to find a small remaining population of aged animals that use a single breeding spot. The spot was in the wider area of Anogi and it could only give spawn in really rainy Springs, because otherwise the water that keeps is vaporized too fast for the tadpoles to become toads. Unfortunately the late years the climate was really dry on Ithaca, with only few precipitations. So this spot is hardly keeping this small population alive, and this is why we found only old individuals. We counted about 40 animals, most of them males, all gathered in that specific spot and only three of them were found roaming a little bit further.

Finally! The image we wished so much to witness! A breeding couple of Green Toads on Ithaca!

A beautiful female

A male waiting in the water for a candidate partner! :)

Taking photos of a such threatened population makes you happy after all!

Showing to deputy mayor of Ithaca the damaged -but after all fixed- pond at Anogi.

DNA sampling is very important for such a residual population.

What's next

So our goal now is to protect and conserve this breeding site from being destroyed, polluted or dry up before the tadpoles become toads. The aim is to increase the population locally in the next years before we can safely reintroduce eggs, tadpoles or toads in other nearby areas to restore the local extinction of the species. Our artificial ponds will play a huge role on that, as two of them are built really close to the single natural breeding spot described above. And this was not by chance. We chose to construct the ponds near the spots where the most recent sights of toads took place in 2016.
The project is actually starting now! We need to monitor this residual population in order to conserve and increase it in number with very careful and assiduous actions. We are finally so optimistic about this project and we can really hope for Ithaca’s Green Toad rescue and recovery. So stay tuned and enjoy this journey from near extinction, hopefully to prosperity!

Taking pictures of the island's beauties. Mike Ventouras, Seryios Papaioannou, Korina Karagianni.

Our proud working group for 2018: Korina Karagianni, Ilias Strachinis, Seryios Papaioannou, Elias Tzoras

Someone's whining for not staying enough on the island... :D

I’d like to warmly thank all the following:

Elias Tzoras, the basic member of the project’s working group for his time, energy and physical effort and of course his great company

Korina Karagianni and Seryios Papaioannou for their great cooperation and voluntary support, their love and great company on this journey

Stavros Kalpakis and “Action for Wildlife” who helped this project come true in 2018

The Deputy Mayor of Ithaca Loukas Anagnostatos for his support, trust, time and great company

Dimitris Artavanis who believed in this project from the first time and helped to make it true

Giorgos Vassilopoulos, ex mayor of Ithaca and the mayor Dionysios Stanitsas for their significant help and fast response

Panos Moraitis for granting us his land to build the most important pond in 2017

Thodoris (Design Under pressure https://dup.ink/) for designing our campaign’s logo and t-shirts

Bernard Carrette for constructing and providing us his amazing recording and sound producing devices and for his very useful advices

Christos Maroulis and Mike Ventouras for their great company and help

Our last year’s main donors: Bernard Carrette, Panagiotis Azmanis, Hotel Nostos - Ithaki Island, GR (http://www.hotelnostos-ithaki.gr), ΒleuSage Korfu-blogg (http://blogg.bluesage.se), Greece Bird Tours (http://www.greecebirdtours.com), Εxplore Ithaca (www.exploreithaca.gr), Katerina Karagianni

Our main donors for 2018: Bernard Carrette, Giorgos Arnarellis, Christos Maroulis, Spyros Spyropoulos

and of course I’d like to truly thank all of you supporting our campaign, both financially by making a donation, as well as morally. Keep supporting similar actions! Your help makes a difference!


Ilias Strachinis

Green Toads in amplexus with their eggs on the background. Ithaca, March 2018! :)

Αναγνωρίσεις ειδών / Απ: αναγνωριση φιδιου
« Τελευταίο μήνυμα από Herpetofauna.gr στις 11-09-18, 00:03:45 »
Ναι εντελώς ακίνδυνο ;-)
Αναγνωρίσεις ειδών / Απ: αναγνωριση φιδιου
« Τελευταίο μήνυμα από el_011 στις 10-09-18, 18:36:51 »
ναι ιταλια ειμαι! ευχαριστω πολυ! αρα φανταζομαι τελειως ακινδυνο ηταν!
Αναγνωρίσεις ειδών / Απ: αναγνωριση φιδιου
« Τελευταίο μήνυμα από Herpetofauna.gr στις 10-09-18, 17:23:03 »
Καλησπέρα el_011, καλώς ήρθες στο φόρουμ.
Αν είσαι σε Βαλκανική χώρα τότε το φίδι είναι Δενδρογαλιά: http://www.herpetofauna.gr/index.php?module=cats&page=read&id=158&sid=142

Αν είσαι στην Ιταλία ή στη Γαλλία ή κοντά στα σύνορα αυτών, τότε έχεις το Hierophis viridiflavus: http://www.herp.it/indexjs.htm?SpeciesPages/ColubVirid.htm

Αυτά τα δύο είδη είναι πολύ συγγενικά και όταν είναι ανήλικα, όπως αυτό στη φωτογραφία σου, είναι σχεδόν ολόιδια :)

Αναγνωρίσεις ειδών / αναγνωριση φιδιου
« Τελευταίο μήνυμα από el_011 στις 10-09-18, 17:04:15 »
καλησπερα! ειμαι φοιτητης στο εξωτερικο και σημερα ειχα μια συναντηση μεσα στο σπιτι μου με το φιδι της φωτογραφιας! καταφερα να το παγιδευσω με προσεχτικες κινησεις σε ενα ταπερ και να το ελευθερωσω στον αγρο! θα ηθελα να μαθω αν καποιος γνωριζει τι ειδος ειναι! ευχαριστω εκ των προτερων!
Αναγνωρίσεις ειδών / Απ: Αναγνώριση φιδιού
« Τελευταίο μήνυμα από Herpetofauna.gr στις 04-09-18, 11:36:31 »
Γεια σου Γιώργο, καλώς ήρθες στο φόρουμ. Αυτό που περιγράφεις είναι σαφέστατα η κοινή Οχιά. Δες την εδώ: http://www.herpetofauna.gr/index.php?module=cats&page=read&id=179&sid=144
Ακριβώς όπως την περιγράφεις, κοντόχοντρο σώμα, μεγάλο κεφάλι, κόρες σαν της γάτας, ουρά που στενεύει απότομα και αλλάζει χρώμα, κέρατο στο ρύγχος και ζιγκ ζακ κατά μήκος της ράχης. Μάλλον νόμιζες για οχιά κάποιο άλλο είδος τόσο καιρό :)
Ρίξε μια ματιά στην κεντρική ιστοσελίδα στο φωτογραφικό ευρετήριο: http://www.herpetofauna.gr/index.php
Αναγνωρίσεις ειδών / Αναγνώριση φιδιού
« Τελευταίο μήνυμα από thalassinos στις 03-09-18, 17:33:44 »
Καλησπέρα, την προηγούμενη εβδομάδα συνάντησα στον Νομό Δράμας για πρώτη φορά ένα είδος φιδιού το οποίο δεν μπορώ να το ταυτοποιήσω από τα γνωστά είδη της Ελλάδος. Δυστυχώς έχω μόνο περιγραφή να σας δώσω. Λοιπόν αρχικά βλέπεις το μεγάλο κέρατο 15 με 18 χιλιοστά στο μπροστινό μέρος ενός τριγωνικού και αρκετά μεγάλου κεφαλιού. Ο κορμός του φιδιού ήταν ιδιαίτερα χοντρός Φ40 με Φ50 και το μήκος του δεν ξεπερνούσε τα 45 με 50 εκατοστά, η ουρά του ήταν πολύ μικρή και είχε απότομη αλλαγή από το σώμα. Οι φολίδες του φαινόντουσαν σκληρές και τα μάτια του ήταν σαν γάτας (μακρόστενες κόρες). Συνήθως τα αιχμαλωτίζω και τα αφήνω αρκετά μακριά από μένα. Το συγκεκριμένο όμως φίδι το φοβήθηκα λόγω της όψης του και το ότι με κοιτούσε επίμονα για περίπου 1 λεπτό, στέκονταν ακίνητο και απλά στριφογυρνούσε την γλώσσα του. Μετά έφυγε με αργή κίνηση. Τις οχιές τις βάζω σε μπουκάλι 1,5 λίτρου, αυτό πώς θα το πιάσω και τι είναι; Γιώργος
Αναγνωρίσεις ειδών / Απ: Αναγνώριση φιδιου
« Τελευταίο μήνυμα από Herpetofauna.gr στις 02-09-18, 23:32:09 »
Teosal σου στέλνω προσωπικό μήνυμα , δες το λίγο
Αναγνωρίσεις ειδών / Απ: Αναγνώριση φιδιου
« Τελευταίο μήνυμα από Teosal στις 02-09-18, 19:48:34 »
Ευχαριστώ για την απάντηση  :)
Το φίδι ήταν ήδη νεκρό μέσα στη συσκευασία που περιείχε τις μπανάνες Εκουαδόρ, είχε αρχίσει να μυρίζει κιόλας οπότε πετάχτηκε. Φωτογραφία δυστυχώς δεν υπάρχει άλλη. Περιοχή μεγάλο σούπερ μάρκετ Δυτικής Θεσσαλονίκης.
Αναγνωρίσεις ειδών / Απ: Αναγνώριση φιδιου
« Τελευταίο μήνυμα από Herpetofauna.gr στις 02-09-18, 11:07:25 »
έτσι όπως έγινε το φίδι είναι δύσκολο να αναγνωριστεί, μάλιστα βλέπουμε την κοιλιά του οπότε ακόμα πιο δύσκολο. Μοιάζει με snail eating snake του γένους Sibon. Το σκοτώσατε εσείς ή έτσι ήταν ήδη; Σε ποια περιοχή είστε; Θα με ενδιέφερε να το δω από κοντά και ίσως να γίνει μια δημοσίευση γι'αυτό.
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