International Bornean Frog Race, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia
Borneo is no stranger to races. There’s the International Bird Race, the Borneo International Marathon, and a hodgepodge of Sabah Adventure Races (one of them is a 250k marathon through the jungle. Nutters.)
And now the frogs have joined the party.
The International Bornean Frog Race 2015 will be the fourth year this event is to be held. I attended the 2014 edition, so here’s what to expect.
First of all. It’s hot. It’s sticky. And this frog race is at night.
It’s not the type of frog race you would think. There is no firing gun. There are no frogs jumping out of a gate to race to a finish line. There are no frog-sized hurdles they must hop (although how fun would that be?)
This is a race for humans.
The goal is to spot, photograph, and document as many frog species as you can within a two-hour period. I thought maybe if I was lucky I’d spot two or three. (I mean, it is nighttime in the Borneo jungle.) I managed to get 14 different species. With lots of repeats. A testament to just how rich the wildlife really is in these parts.
The Borneo Frog Race is modeled after Borneo’s annual International Bird Race and entails participants combing the trails at the Serapi foothills within Kubah National Park. Since folks are only given two hours, and it takes a good half an hour (uphill!) in the dark to reach the park’s frog pond, you’ve really only got an hour for the actual hunt.
A full third of the frog species on this planet are under threat of extinction. The event is designed to raise awareness of the plight of the humble frog through talks, exhibitions, and even a Frog Photography Workshop. The ultimate goal of course is promoting frog conservation.
There’s even Frog Watching Code of Ethics.
The talks during the one-day event offer plenty to learn about all things frog, but I was drawn to some of the more bizarre facts about frogs through history. Like how the Navajo believe you will have throat problems if you watch frogs eat, or how some folks in India perform frog weddings to invoke rain.
And of course the well-known properties of frogs as a hallucinogenic.
And the littler-known fact that they’re also used for zombification!
There were 175 participants in the 2014 Borneo Frog Race, mostly university students, up from 75 in 2013, and a mere 30 froggers in its first year, 2012.
While some came for the education about frog conservation, most were here for one thing – to see frogs.
Of all the frogs spotted during the event, this one was perhaps my favourite – the Bornean Horned Toad, also called the Long-Nosed Horned Toad. If I didn’t have the handy frog identification booklet the organizers gave me I’d be hard pressed to even know it was a frog.
It’s done a pretty admirable job of camouflaging itself. I think it says something about mankind when the evolution of any critter lies in its ability to hide from us.
The 2015 International Bornean Frog Race will take place on April 25, 2015. Further information and links to the registration page can be found at the Sarawak Tourism website.