Determined scientific efforts to preserve the tiny Panamanian golden frog from extinction due to the spread of a deadly fungus have begun to pay off with its successful reproduction in captivity.

The rescue project of the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center, or EVACC, with the participation of both Panamanian and foreign scientists, announced this month that it has managed to breed 42 healthy Panamanian golden frogs.

Project director Heidi Ross told Efe that this is the first time since 2006, when the project began, that the golden frog could be added to the list of other amphibian species bred in captivity here.

She said that Panamanian golden frogs originally reproduced in the freshwater mountain streams of central Panama, mainly in Altos de Campana National Park.

So it was a complex task, she said, to recreate similar environmental conditions that would be effective for the preservation and reproduction of the species.

The scientist said the gradual disappearance of the Panamanian golden frog has been related to the pollution and destruction of its habitat, but is chiefly due to the deadly chytrid fungus.

The fungus entered Panama from the border region with Costa Rica in 1993 and attacks all kinds of frogs.

This week Panama celebrated the Festival of the Golden Frog, due to a 2010 law that gave this amphibian the status of "ecological and cultural symbol." EFE