Afghan Arabia Wild
Believe it or not there are a great deal of frogs and toads over here in this arid country. Like most desert amphibians, however, they employ a cautious, but time tested strategy to survive - they wait for rain. But when the rains come, watch out! The toads are out in force. Thanks to the US military presence, though, small bodies of permanent water are now found in parts of the country that normally remained parched. And it does not take long for our amphibious friends to find and appreciate these life giving waters. I haven't found any salamanders yet, but they here, mainly in the more pristine mountain waters in the northeast regions of the country.
Now here is something you just don't see every day in the desert except after a rare rain. But the water treatment spillover in the Kandahar Air Base has created a small lake behind the airfield. I was prowling around back there and discovered these two species of toads. The ones above are lighter skinned and rounder; these fellows below are darker in color and far more pudgy. Amazing. Give wildlife just the smallest chance to survive and it takes hold. The specimens in the last three photos are Pseudepidalea surda. The common name is Iranian Toad or Earless Toad (can't say I ever saw a toad with ears, though).
Toads around the world have a couple of things in common. One is the noxious skin secretions they emit when frightened. The other is their mysteriously beautiful eyes. I became rather fascinated with this. You have to admit they're beautiful. In fact these anuran orbs inspired me to write an article about them - and later became the title for my book "In a Toad's Eye."
Of all the animals I managed to photograph in Afghanistan none seem to have captured more attention than this little guy - a species of Afghan amphibian called a Skittering Frog, Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis microspinulata. These are actual frogs, about the size of a US leopard frog, that live in a various places throughout the country; these particular specimens were found in Kandahar province. They are found in other parts of the country but this is the only area I witnessed them in. These little guys have an exceptional and interesting ability to jump across the water surface. When frightened they don't just plunge under water like most frogs; they skip along the water surface sometimes covering more than seven feet before diving. Seeing twenty or thirty of these little frogs suddenly skitter across the surface of the water in different directions is an amazing - and very amusing - sight.
If you give nature the slightest chance she'll bounce back. Even in the most polluted messes over here some kinds of wildlife manage to thrive. The photo does not do justice to the revolting state of the stream where I took these pictures. Some parts of the little stream were nearly dark with tadpoles, however, and they have been growing steadily for about three weeks. Not all, but some will grow up to handsome frogs or perhaps toads like the handsome fellow on the right.