You could come home with me and live in Hackney!
Would you like that? I’ve met a lot of frogs in my time:
fat frogs, friendly frogs, flying frogs, hungry frogs … even giant, waxy monkey frogs. But there’s one frog that stands out above
all others because it just so happens to be the most toxic animal
on the planet. Phyllobates terribilis, otherwise known
as the golden poison dart frog. This tiny amphibian secretes enough poison
from its skin to kill over 10 people in three minutes flat. It’s only found in small and remote area of tropical rainforest in the Chocó region
of Colombia. Steamy! This unique freak is on the red list
for endangered species. I’m desperate to find one
and discover what’s being done to save it. Are you going to take it for me? Really? Thank you very much.
Such service. It’s about 90, 95 … 30 degrees celsius
and probably about 100% humidity. So I’m going to be looking really terrific
for the next four days, basically. Really, really sexy. Timbiquí is the only town in the region. There are no roads in and no roads out. It’s steamy, hot,
and one of the wettest places on Earth. When it rains, boy, does it rain. The military are everywhere
because just a few miles upstream there are drug runners, illegal gold miners,
and the last stronghold of the militant guerrilla group Farc. It was easy enough getting in to Timbiquí, but if you want to head any further upstream,
on your own head be it. I’ve made myself responsible
for my own risk now. The risks of leaving this town. As soon as we head upriver
we’re entering Colombia’s wild west, but that’s where the frog is
so that’s where we’ve got to go. It’s a lovely day out.
There’s nothing to worry about. These are the marines on the right.
These are marines here. Oh, OK. As soon as we’ve left the vicinity of Timbiquí,
we’re pulled aside and offered some useful advice. So upstream, we might find people who have got machine guns
and are asking for passports and to check us and who aren’t the army,
who are ‘independent’ military types. It’s not just the frogs that are in danger here.
Local communities live in a constant state of flux as the military and the Farc
fight for control of this illicit El Dorado, the source of much of Colombia’s cocaine and now a hub for industrial scale
illegal gold mining. Hello, San Miguel! Hola!
Hola! Hola, Señor! – No way!
– Yeah it’s clear, yeah. And that’s because of the gold mining upriver that makes it this colour? – The machinery upriver. Goldmining. So all of this area around here is all prime jungle
for the golden poison dart frog. And these people who live in San Miguel,
they own about 60,000 hectares of community land. So today’s mission is for Alonso and Paul to persuade them to give up
a significant chunk of that land over to conservation.
Wish us luck! I’ve come here thousands of miles because Colombia has
the most spectacular frogs on the planet. And probably the most spectacular of all
is this little yellow frog called Phyllobates terribilis that I very, very much want to see. Convincing the people of San Miguel
to protect a creature that can kill them almost instantly
is a hard sell, but the response is encouraging. This seems like the perfect time to bring out my alter ego,
the Amphibian Avenger, a character that back home
is usually very popular with the kids. Ribbit, ribbit, ribbit! Croak, croak! Ribbit, ribbit! I think I’m going to make them cry! In an area where frogs are deadly, dressing up as a giant one
is perhaps not my brightest idea. I’ve actually frightened them.
I think it’s actually anti-conservation. I’m feeling really, really embarrassed, actually.
Really. It’s coming to places like this
that makes you think that maybe conservation is a western luxury,
because here’s me, passionate about saving a frog but these people have got to
have something to eat tonight. And it’s all very easy for me to come in and go, ‘Oh, I love this frog. I want to save this frog
that’s in your back yard, which means you can’t do this, that
and the other.’ But, you know, it’s just not that simple.
It’s not that simple. People have got to feed themselves. And that is the reality of the situation. Happily, the people who are on the frontline
trying to preserve this environment are a group of local conservationists
who understand these challenges all too well. – There’s a frog! He’s got a frog! – They’re also very, very good at catching frogs. – It’s a common forest frog …
– Oh! I’ve lost it! You know what that is?
That’s a sleeping tree frog. They normally live really high up in the trees. Look how beautiful he is!
Look! His eyes are like pearls. Isn’t he gorgeous?
Look at his eyes! Look at you!
You’re literally like the frog conjuror! Wow, so this is …
Look! He’s like a little tomato, isn’t he? So this a little toad
just hopping around on the forest floor. He’s getting quite annoyed with me.
He’s got a fantastic, pissed-off look on his face. – So how endangered is this frog?
– I would say extremely endangered. And the reason is simple. Firstly, it’s only found in a very small area
effectively the size of London or Washington DC, which is about 40 miles by 40 miles. So it’s in a tiny area. Secondly, none of that area is actually protected until ProAves has acquired some land
and set up a reserve specifically to save and protect the species. – Terriblis? He’s so much more orange than I thought.
Oh my god! My god, I can’t believe we saw it!
He’s, like, really orange. The one’s that I’ve seen are more, like, yellow.
This one’s orange. He’s got it! As soon as the frog senses danger, it sweats out the deadly neurotoxin
to defend itself. Oh! Score! Goal! By the time Alonso hands the frog to me, I need gloves to prevent
even the tiniest amount of the toxin seeping into my bloodstream through my skin,
or I’d be dead in minutes. Bloody hell! I’m so nervous!
OK, OK. Hello mister … Oh my god, I’ve got it! I’ve got it! – Yeah, it’s all yours. – I can hear him chirping, actually.
Oh my god, he’s definitely going to be making the poison now, isn’t he? I can’t believe I’m holding in my hand
the world’s most toxic creature. I’m literally shaking! Hello, mister! Don’t be mad. God, he’s so beautiful! I can’t … I think I’m going to cry! Sorry. – Don’t touch your face with it.
– Oh, don’t touch my face with that hand! Oh my god!
It’s so embarrassing! – I’ll give you a tissue. Maybe it’s the toxins doing something to me. – Although it may be deadly,
protecting the golden frog will benefit the local people
far more than gold mining in the long term. Despite the mad woman in a frog costume,
since my visit the people of San Miguel are now working to save
their local environment. I literally feel like I’m holding
a loaded gun. It’s terrifying! I have never … I’ve held a million frogs
and I have never shaken so much as I am right now. I am just shitting myself! – He said that if you kiss him,
he’ll become a prince. Do you know what?
I am so not kissing this frog. There is no fucking way I’m
kissing that. But I am going to give Alonso a big kiss …
Thank you. I’m not kissing him, no.