Jesus Loves the Brown Pop-Eyed Atewa Slippery Frog

In Ghana, the church is at the center of a bold new conservation effort.

Caleb Ofori-Boateng, a 39-year-old Ghanaian herpetologist, laughs at the idea that he might be a modern-day Noah.

But his life’s purpose has something in common with the famous figure from the Book of Genesis.

Take the new species of small, brown, pop-eyed frog with tiny teeth and a shrill voice that he and some colleagues just described in a scientific journal.

The entire population of the Atewa slippery frog is thought to live in just five clear-running streams in Atewa, a wildlife-rich evergreen forest on a mountain range north of the Ghanaian capital Accra.

But the area is threatened by government-backed plans to mine for bauxite, used to make aluminum. Should they go ahead, mining will likely destroy the forest and kill off the frogs.

Ofori-Boateng and his colleagues at Herp Conservation Ghana, a group he founded, plan to remove some of the frogs and breed them in captivity—in an “amphibian ark”—until it’s safe for them to return to their natural habitat.

“I feel that God is in what I do. And saving species is a godly thing to do,” he said.

Saving species, especially frogs, is what Ofori-Boateng has been doing for the past 15 years, with the support of the church and a strategy he calls “conservation evangelism.” It started among communities near the Atewa Forest.

As a new science graduate and the country’s first locally trained herpetologist working in Atewa in 2006, Ofori-Boateng yearned to share his experiences and discoveries with communities living at the foot of the hills. With no funds to organize meetings, and as a Christian
himself, he turned to the churches.

Ofori-Boateng was not a public speaker, but he trusted God would help him. He made a commitment …

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