Experts have hit out after a “hilarious” video of a screaming Cape Town frog snared thousands of fans around the worldwide.
They say the Cape rain frog‚ filmed in Tokai forest‚ is clearly in distress.
Animal behaviour therapist Jill Goldman told National Geographic: “I find it sad‚ not hilarious. I think people are drawn to videos that look funny when they don’t really understand why the animal is doing what [it’s] doing.”
Alan Channing‚ an emeritus professor at the University of the Western Cape who has written several books about frogs‚ said: “Notice how the frog is backing up‚ trying to escape.”
Simon van Nierop‚ who captured the video‚ was walking with his children when they heard high-pitched screaming. His Jack Russells‚ Lulu and Bella‚ traced it to a yellow and black‚ puffed-up Cape rain frog‚ a species endemic to the Western Cape and listed as near threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.
“We laughed hysterically and you also feel this sense of amazement that something that weird exists and makes that sound. All we could think was how absolutely weird this frog is‚” Van Nierop told MailOnline.
Carrie Freeman‚ a communications professor at Georgia State University who co-created animalsandmedia.org‚ said videos and photos of unusual animals can help efforts to protect the animal by drawing attention to an otherwise unknown species.
“If you have an animal protection mission‚ you can use this for your cause‚” she told National Geographic. On the other hand‚ “if people just see it and say that it’s cute‚ it could be counterproductive”.
The Cape rain frog is threatened primarily by habitat loss. Though it has adapted to pine plantation habitats like Tokai‚ agricultural and urban expansion have contributed to its continued decline.
Van Nierop told MailOnline: “We have never seen or captured this before and we hope we see one again‚ it’s just too hysterical.”
– TMG Digital