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Last Updated: Tuesday April 18 2006 11:54 GMT

Panama frogs under fungus threat

Panama golden frog
A golden coloured frog, which is the national symbol of Panama, is under threat from a deadly fungus that's sweeping through the country.

The rana dorada, as it's officially known, appears on everything from Panama lottery tickets to guide books.

But its numbers have started to drop rapidly because of a fungus which grows all over its skin and suffocates it.

Experts believe that 80 per cent of the tiny frogs will die out in the next ten years unless they're bred in captivity.

The golden frog is extremely important to people living in Panama and even comes with its own legend.

Local people believe that the frog turns to solid gold when it dies and that even a sighting of one is lucky.

Experts hope to save many of the frogs by taking them out of the wild but there's concern that tourists will be put off visiting Panama if they can't see the creature in its natural habitat.

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