Pfarrer Ole Dorst Krötenschützer

A pastor as toad conservationist

June 8, 2021In Stories


With God’s help for the toads

How on earth did a pastor and teacher go to the frogs? Actually, he had wanted to become a biologist. Because of his passion for animals. It must have been in 1974 when five-year-old Ole was waiting at the dentist’s office and, tormented by boredom, picked up one of the picture books on display. It was about amphibians, the development from egg to tadpole to the finished amphibian, about the biggest and the smallest frog in the world. The boy was immediately enthusiastic, it was a love at first sight that would not let him go. Perhaps it was God’s providence. In the end, he studied Protestant theology, but as an enthusiastic nature photographer, he continued to devote his free time to frogs. An educational path from pastor to toad protector!

From nature photographer to amphibian breeder

Schon als Kind schleppte Ole allerlei Getier nach Hause, fasziniert saß er vor dem Fernseher, wenn Sielmann und Professor Grzimek die Zuschauer mitnahmen auf ihre Expeditionen ins Reich der wilden Tiere, und die Schülerzeitschrift „Tierfreund“ ließ ihn staunend die Bilder renommierter Fotografen betrachten – das weckte den Wunsch, selbst Tiere zu fotografieren. Mit dem ersten durch Schülerjobs selbst verdienten Geld kaufte er sich eine gute Kamera, und los ging´s! Doch viele Amphibien ließen sich in allen ihren Verhaltensweisen nur schwer in freier Natur dokumentieren. So kam Ole zur Terraristik.

Ole's favorite photo subjects

The call of the wild

In the terrarium, Ole brought nature home to photograph, but photography always brought him into the wild. After years of photographing native species, he was lured by the biodiversity of the rainforests. Looking for a conveniently accessible destination, he came across the little-known Western Ghats mountain range in southern India – a global amphibian hotspot. He was enthralled by the region’s richness of species and individuals, and returned here again and again for new photo safaris.

From a racing bike riding pastor to a toad

With the racing bike to the toad

Besides photography, Ole also indulges in road cycling. His home in the Black Forest offers plenty of beautiful routes with decent climbs. He participated in cycling marathons all over Europe. It was also a bike race that took him to Mallorca in the Serra de Tramuntana. Later, he read in a journal that in the ravines there a living fossil has survived to this day: the Mallorca midwife toad. It is critically endangered, but its population has been stabilized through a dedicated zoo breeding program. When Citizen Conservation offered the opportunity for private owners to join this conservation project, Ole was immediately on board.

Enthusiastic about nature

Ole has not only been able to get his own two children excited about amphibians; the biology teachers at his school have also had the clerical colleague design an amphibian course. With great success: “Even the most behaviorally challenged students were captivated by the live frogs on display,” he reports. “Our youth are not supposed to be enthusiastic about nature? Nonsense! What’s crucial here is the personal experience.” That’s another reason he’s a convinced participant in Citizen Conservation. “There I can kill two birds with one stone: commitment to species conservation and arouse enthusiasm in others for these endangered animals!”

Mallorcan Midwife Toad

Alytes muletensis

A fossil that unexpectedly resurrected from the dead. A dramatic story from the edge of extinction and the dedicated fight against it. Eine dramatische Geschichte vom Rand des Aussterbens und dem engagierten Kampf dagegen.

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