An initiative that unites the efforts of various academic institutions, organizations, researchers, and the community taking on the challenge of protecting the Jambato frog (Atelopus ignescens), which is critically endangered and almost at the brink of extinction

About the project

Five years after the Jambato’s rediscovery, this flagship species of frogs from the Ecuadorian Andes, researchers and community leaders have joined forces to conserve these unique animals.

The Jambato is a frog species which was historically abundant, yet they suddenly disappeared in the late 1980s; with its last sighting being recorded in 1988. By 2004, the IUCN had declared the species extinct. In 2016 in the parish of Angamarca, located in the province of Cotopaxi (Pujili district), the Jambato was rediscovered. While cutting alfalfa on his family’s property David Jailaca, a 12 year old boy, found a single specimen. Without further interest as he believed it was one among many of the frogs found in the area, he didn’t realize what a special frog he had found. Later, upon hearing there was a reward for anyone who could find the jambato, he knew exactly what he had stumbled across. Shortly after, the species was confirmed alive in this distant valley.

David Jailaca
Photo by: ©Andrés Reinoso

The Jambatu Center for Amphibian Research and Conservation led this campaign resulting in a new and ongoing program of assisted breeding, which has proven to be successful. However, we currently lack a clear plan towards the conservation of the newly discovered wild populations of the Jambato. 

In June 2021, a new conservation project was launched to identify strengths, needs and opportunities, as well as participants interested in designing an agreed-upon work plan. This initiative gave birth to the Jambato Alliance, an initiative led by a blend of researchers from academic institutions, as well as the local community, joined and committed to conservation of the Jambato.

Photo by: © Stefany Obando
Alianza Jambato works together with local authorities for building a conservation strategy that benefits the communities of Angamarca.

​The main goal of this initiative is to join forces and make the Jambato an emblematic species, saving it from extinction, by means of research and conservation actions that involving, and led by the local community.

Photo by: ©Gustavo Pazmiño



The last known refuge for the Jambato is located in Angamarca, a parish located on the western part of the Andes mountain range, in the province of Cotopaxi. This area is rich in history, culture and its beautiful landscapes. Nevertheless, contrary to popular belief, the areas where the Jambato were found are far from pristine. The landscape is actually composed of pastures and farmlands, thus they coexist with the local inhabitants.

Since its inception, our project has worked closely with the local community and authorities, who are our main partners in Angamarca. All work is carried out through hands-on environmental education building on local scientific knowledge, aided by constant communication with locals. We additionally hold workshops and conduct fieldwork with all age groups of local youth and adults alike, where fieldwork is always done with local collaborators who serve as field assistants for collaborative work with researchers.

Our main goal is to build and strengthen capacities and knowledge, while creating awareness with the local community in order for them to value, look after the Jambato. We believe that the Jambato will become a flagship species, and its conservation will allow us to broaden this effort to other locally threatened species.


The Jambato’s scientific name (Atelopus ignescens), is a derived from the high contrast black-to-orange coloring found between their back and abdomen (belly), similar to a lighted piece of charcoal: ”ignescens” means “to become inflamed” in Latin. Their common name derives from the Kichwa word “jampatu”, which means frog. This name is derived as a result of it being so abundant, therefore this particular species generic image of any frog for its neighboring humans. It was frequently found in grasslands, pastures, and around the cities of Latacunga, Quito and Ambato. The latter city in fact owes its name to this frog which was once common in the area. This species is characterized by being diurnal, terrestrial, and slow-moving. Its reproduction takes place in flowing water in rivers where they engage in amplexus, which is when the male frog latches onto a female’s back. The female then deposits its eggs in rivers and streams. The tadpoles live under rocks, thanks to a suction cup that allows them to firmly attach themselves. In our monthly research trips we continue to further our knowledge of the basic biology of this frog, as we have a long way to go in our understanding.

Learn more

External links

Amphibian Survival Alliance

A second chance: in situ conservation of the Critically Endangered jambato harlequin (Atelopus ignescens) through local community involvement.
More information

Stiftung Artenschutz

A second chance: saving the last wild population of the Critically Endangered Jambato harlequin through local community involvement.
More information


An alliance to save the jambato harlequin toad from extinction.
More information

The Harlequin Magazine

Magazine for Atelopus news.
More information

Jambato, Sapo Negro

by Jacana Jacana. Ilustración: Selva Selvita | Jacana Jacana. Illustration: Selva Selvita | Song published as part of the project “Harlequin toads, the jewels of our forests and paramos” (Valencia et al. 2022).

En esta montaña canta un sapito
jambato negro en mi jardín
canta al amanecer, canta cuando va a llover
y cuando el sol se va a esconder

auu uu uuuu
jambato, sapito de la Pachamama
auu uu uu, que crezcan las habas
otra vez en mi montaña

aunque nadie te había visto
yo sabía que estabas vivo
por eso
te busqué, te busqué
y me fuí con mi llamita
a buscarte en la yerbita
y entonces
te encontré, te encontré

Jambato negro de la Pachamama
entre una nube te encontré cuando soñaba
jambato negro de la Pachamama
luego en el arroyo de agua clara tú cantabas

auu uu uuuu
Phuyupi, muskuypi
kanta mashkarkani
auu uu uu,
Jambatu, jambatuku

auu uu uuuu
jambato, sapito
de la Pachamama
auu uu uu
corazón de fuego
que ilumina mi mañana

Phuyupi, muskuypi
kanta mashkarkani
khipaka chuyaklla yakupi
Nina shungu tutamandata ninayangi


You can also help us preserve the jambato toad, and give it a second chance.

Bank transfer

María del Carmen Vizcaíno
CI 1708772932
Project Director

Banco Pacífico
Savings account

Banco Pichincha
Savings account

If you can contribute with a larger donation, contact us.


And if you want to know other ways to get involved, fill out this form: