Bid to find a Valentine for Romeo, world’s ‘loneliest frog’

This handout picture obtained from Global Wildlife Conservation on February 9, 2018 shows a Sehuencas water frog (Telmatobius yuracare) named "Romeo" kept in a tank at the Natural History Museum in Cochabamba, Bolivia. (AFP)
Updated 10 February 2018

Bid to find a Valentine for Romeo, world’s ‘loneliest frog’

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia: With Valentine’s Day approaching, please spare a thought for Romeo the lonesome Bolivian frog.
Ten years a bachelor, the childless amphibian has had to enlist human help to mount a last-ditch search for a Juliet which, if it fails, could mean the end of his species.
Romeo, you see, is the last known frog of his kind.
And he has been fruitlessly calling for a mate from his tank at the Cochabamba Natural History Museum for years.
“We don’t want him to lose hope,” said Arturo Munoz, a conservation scientist associated with the Global Wildlife Conservation, which has hooked up with dating website Match to raise money for Romeo’s last shot at romance.
The funds will be used to scour Bolivian streams and rivers for signs of a female Sehuencas water frog, even in tadpole form.
“We continue to remain hopeful that others are out there so we can establish a conservation breeding program to save this species,” said Munoz.
If Romeo croaks, he could follow the route of “Lonesome George,” a childless Galapagos tortoise who died in 2012, taking his entire subspecies with him.
Sehuencas water frogs live for about 15 years.
As part of the campaign to raise $15,000 (12,200 euros) by Valentine’s Day, the team has created a Match profile for Romeo.
He is introduced by a video in which he shows off a variety of swimming moves.
“Hi there. I’m Romeo, a Sehuencas water frog from Bolivia,” says a sexy, Spanish-accented voice.
“I’m a pretty simple guy. I tend to keep to myself and love spending nights at home. I also love eating. then again, who doesn’t?“
His mobile phone profile, also shown in the video, sports a big-eyed, pouting cartoon frog posing in a seductive manner, with the words: “Looking for my Juliet.”
Romeo’s relationship status is listed as: “Never married.” Has kids? “No.”
“I bet you’re wondering what is a frog like me doing in a place like this?” the announcement continues.
“Well, I’m here to find my match, just like you. Except, my situation is a bit more... urgent.”
When Romeo was collected 10 years ago, said Munoz, “we knew the Sehuencas water frog, like other amphibians in Bolivia, was in trouble, but we had no idea we wouldn’t be able to find a single other individual in all this time.
“Romeo started to call for a mate about a year after he was brought into captivity, but those calls have slowed in the last few years.”
Compared to other frogs in the genus, Munoz told AFP, Romeo has an especially musical mating call, and has taught biologists much about his species.
It is a shy creature, usually hiding under rocks in his enclosure. It emerges only at feeding time, with earthworms and snails among its favorite snacks.
If they can raise enough money for travel and equipment, the team of scientists hopes to launch 10 expeditions to locations where the species was once common, as well as similar habitats, or places where nobody has looked before.
They will also scour streams and rivers for DNA evidence that the Sehuencas water frog may still be there, even if individuals cannot be tracked down.
If all else fails, Munoz does not rule out cloning as a means of preserving this amphibian species which, like many others, is threatened by climate change, habitat loss, alien predatory species introduced to rivers, and a fungus blamed for frog extinctions worldwide.
“So, if you believe in love and want to help an old frog out, please donate to my cause,” Romeo’s video concludes.
“Adios amigos.”


World’s shortest man dies in Nepal at 27

In this file photo taken on September 24, 2010 Nepalese teenager Khagendra Thapa Magar poses for a picture with Miss Nepal Sadichha Shrestha (C) and first runner-up Sahana Bajracharya (R) and second runner-up Samyukta Timilsina (L) in Kathmandu. (AFP)
Updated 18 January 2020

World’s shortest man dies in Nepal at 27

  • Magar became an official face of Nepal’s tourism campaign, which featured him as the smallest man in a country that is home to the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest

KATMANDU: The world’s shortest man who could walk, as verified by Guinness World Records, died Friday at a hospital in Nepal, his family said.
Khagendra Thapa Magar, who measured 67.08 centimeters (2 feet 2.41 inches), died of pneumonia at a hospital in Pokhara, 200 kilometers from Katmandu, where he lived with his parents.
“He has been in and out of hospital because of pneumonia. But this time his heart was also affected. He passed away today,” Mahesh Thapa Magar, his brother, told AFP.
Magar was first declared the world’s shortest man in 2010 after his 18th birthday, photographed holding a certificate only a bit smaller than him.
However he eventually lost the title after Nepal’s Chandra Bahadur Dangi, who measured 54.6 centimeters, was discovered and named the world’s shortest mobile man.
Magar regained the title after Dangi’s death in 2015.
“He was so tiny when he was born that he could fit in the palm of your hand, and it was very hard to bathe him because he was so small,” said his father, Roop Bahadur, according to Guinness World Records.
As the world’s shortest man the 27-year-old traveled to more than a dozen countries and made television appearances in Europe and the United States.
“We’re terribly sad to hear the news from Nepal that Khagendra is no longer with us,” said Craig Glenday, Guinness World Records editor-in-chief.
“Life can be challenging when you weigh just 6 kilograms and you don’t fit into a world built for the average person. But Khagendra certainly didn’t let his small size stop him from getting the most out of life” he said.
Magar became an official face of Nepal’s tourism campaign, which featured him as the smallest man in a country that is home to the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest.
During his stint he met other short people around the world, including the shortest woman, Jyoti Amge, from India.
In a video released by Guinness World Records, Magar is seen playing a guitar with his brother, riding a bike and sitting at his family’s shop.
The world’s shortest non-mobile man remains Junrey Balawing of the Philippines, who measures only 59.93 centimeters but is unable to walk or stand unaided, according to Guinness World Records.
The record for shortest living mobile man is now retained by Edward “Nino” Hernandez of Colombia, a reggaeton DJ who stands 70.21 centimeters tall, Guinness said.