Once-extinct rare frog returns to its Norfolk home

Rare northern pool frogs being released at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Thompson Common, near Watton

Rare northern pool frogs being released at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Thompson Common, near Watton - Credit: Sonya Duncan

An extremely rare Norfolk native is hopping around happily in a Breckland nature reserve - after being brought back from extinction in the UK.

The northern pool frog, England’s rarest amphibian, has been successfully reintroduced to Thompson Common, near Watton - the last place it was recorded before becoming extinct in this country in the 1990s.

Staff from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) released tadpoles and frogs into the reserve's pingos, post-glacial pools which offer the perfect habitat for the creatures.

It was the final phase in a process which began in 2015 to re-establish a self-sustaining wild population of pool frogs at their Norfolk home.

Emily Jordan of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation with a northern pool frog tadpole ready to be released at Thompson Common

Emily Jordan of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation with a northern pool frog tadpole ready to be released at Thompson Common - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Jim Foster, conservation director at ARC, said: "It is not often that you can say that you brought an animal back from extinction, but that is exactly what you can see here today.

"It is only because of the dedicated work here over the last few years we have been able to bring it back. 

"The fantastic thing about Thompson Common is the sheer number and quality of the ponds here. Quite a lot are known as pingos, these glacial relic ponds which seem to form ideal conditions for pool frogs.

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"They are very open to the sun and they hold water all through the year, which is really important for the pool frog."

Following the northern pool frog's demise, a project originally brought them back to a secret location in Norfolk in 2005, as part of a trial reintroduction using frogs captured in Sweden.

The Thompson Common scheme began in 2015, using tadpoles taken from the wild as spawn and reared in captivity under carefully-controlled conditions - a process known as "head-starting".

Now there are thought to be at least 30 adults there, and conservationists are confident they will continue to breed and become a self-sustaining population.

Rare northern pool frogs and tadpoles being released at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Thompson Common, near Watton

Rare northern pool frogs and tadpoles being released at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Thompson Common, near Watton - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Jon Preston, conservation manager for Norfolk Wildlife Trust, which manages the reserve, said: "This is such an iconic species that fits in so well with the landscape we have got here.

"We are starting to see the sustainability of the population, they are breeding on site and we are seeing them spread further out from these release pools.

"It means the partnership, the head-starting and all the management work we do on site is all working."

Rare northern pool frogs being released at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Thompson Common, near Watton

Rare northern pool frogs being released at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Thompson Common, near Watton - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation project officer Ben King releasing rare northern pool frogs  at Thompson Common

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation project officer Ben King releasing rare northern pool frogs  at Thompson Common, near Watton - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Rare northern pool frogs and tadpoles have been released at Thompson Common, near Watton

Rare northern pool frogs and tadpoles have been released at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Thompson Common, near Watton - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Rare northern pool frogs and tadpoles being released at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Thompson Common, near Watton

Rare northern pool frogs and tadpoles being released at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Thompson Common, near Watton - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Emily Jordan of the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation releasing northern pool frog tadpoles  at Thompson Common

Emily Jordan of the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation releasing northern pool frog tadpoles  at Thompson Common - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Rare northern pool frog tadpoles being released at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Thompson Common, near Watton

Rare northern pool frog tadpoles being released at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Thompson Common, near Watton - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation staff releasing northern pool frog tadpoles at Thompson Common

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation staff releasing northern pool frog tadpoles at Thompson Common - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Rare northern pool frogs being released at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Thompson Common, near Watton

Rare northern pool frogs being released at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Thompson Common, near Watton - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation project officer Ben King releasing rare northern pool frogs  at Thompson Common

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation project officer Ben King releasing rare northern pool frogs  at Thompson Common, near Watton - Credit: Sonya Duncan

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