Lunching ranger discovers species lost for 40 years

In 1975 two conservationists discovered a gorgeous salamander in the rainforests of Guatemala. No one ever saw it again – and Jackson’s climbing salamander was feared extinct – until last month when local forest guard, Ramos León-Tomás, sat down in the forest for lunch.

The last time anyone saw Jackson’s climbing salamander – I didn’t yet exist. It was 1975: Margaret Thatcher took over leadership of the Tories, Saigon fell to Communist forces, the USSR was still a thing, and everyone was listening to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. And in Guatemala, reeling from over a decade of civil war, two American conservationists found a little treasure of black and gold: they named it Jackson’s climbing salamander. Then it vanished as if it had never been.

Forty-two years later a lot has changed. The world is hotter than it has been in over 100,000 years and species are vanishing at rates that portend mass extinction. Yet, miracles can still happen.

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