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Saving frogs for future generations

August 11, 2014

Saving frogs for future generations

Lanky Cheucarama is a skilled artisan by trade and a dedicated conservationist by choice

Lanky Cheucarama is a skilled artisan by trade and a dedicated conservationist by choice. His love for frogs attracted him to amphibian conservation. Lanky has been involved with STRI’s Gamboa Amphibian Rescue Center (ARC) for four years and sculpting frog figurines since he was a child.

Having grown up in Comarca Emberá-Wounaan, one of Panama’s indigenous territories, Lanky understands the biological and cultural importance of frogs. The exquisite figurines he sculpts facilitates a better appreciation of the endangered species.

“Truthfully, we have left the next generation with nothing to see,” said Lanky, referring to the many amphibians that have disappeared from the wild in recent decades. “Unfortunately they will only see these amphibians in books and nowhere else, so it is very important to emphasize education so people can know the importance of the species.”

Lanky uses tagua nuts to sculpt the frogs. The tagua nut is the seed of a palm tree commonly known as ivory or ivory-nut palms because the hard white endosperm of their seeds resembles elephant ivory.

Tagua nut sculpting has been passed down through Lanky’s family for generations. His parents and extended family taught him to perfect his craft. Lanky considers his sculpted frogs little achievements that demonstrate the importance of frogs to his culture.

Lanky works at the Gamboa ARC overseeing project maintenance of new facilities under construction. “It is a pleasure to be in this project and to also work as a conservationist,” said Lanky.

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