A hop away from extinction

The Hindu


BANGALORE: They are not exactly cutie-pies. Being slimy and warty, frogs may not feature in your list of favourite animals. But you’ve got to admit you would miss their rrribbids if they fell silent on a rainy night. And, tellingly, they are an indicator of the health of the local environment.

According to research by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), nearly half of the Earth’s 6,000 amphibians, including frogs, are in danger of extinction. Destruction of habitat, trade and over-collection are just some of the factors that are threatening the frogs along with a another unstoppable killer, amphibian chytrid, a fungal disease that has the capacity to catalyse what could be the largest mass extinction since dinosaurs disappeared, according to IUCN.

To save the frog from this fate, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, IUCN’s Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, and the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group have formed Amphibian Ark, a programme designed to educate, raise funds and captive breed the species. They have also declared 2008 as the Year of the Frog.

Frogs form an essential part of the ecosystem – as predator and prey – snapping up bugs and insects that destroy crops, and ending up in turn as sumptuous meals for birds, fish and turtles (or on dinner plates for those consider frog legs a delicacy).

In India, the campaign will be promoted by the Amphibian Network of South Asia and its hosts and Zoo Outreach Organisation (ZOO).

Sanjay Molur, Deputy Director of ZOO, Coimbatore, says: “In India, the focus is always on new research, on discovering new species. But a lot of work needs to be done to determine the status of frogs.” For instance, he says, “there is no information on whether chytrid sickness has spread rapidly in India. It may be killing frogs silently somewhere in India without our knowledge.”

A training workshop has been initiated by ZOO in Periyar to train individuals and prepare them to handle this crisis, Mr. Molur adds. “We have also come out with over 5,000 Amphibian Ark publications to educate the general public, students, teachers and government officials.”

The educational programmes and activity will become vigorous in the run up to 2008 when the whole campaign will begin on a large scale, he says. The funds raised from this global campaign will be used to raise funds for the conservation work of these amphibians.

For more information about this campaign or be a part of it, write to zooreach@zooreach.org or to AArk at ZOO WILD, PO Box 1683, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu 641004.



Filed under amphibian, asia, biodiversity, conservation, india, nature, wildlife, zoology

3 responses to “A hop away from extinction

  1. The dedicated people with Z.O.O. are to be commended for raising awareness for this cause in India. It can’t be easy. I received an email from Sally Walker with Z.O.O. a month and a half ago, which she typed after a late night preparing for an educational event supporting the amphibians. She wrote: “Really, I don’t deserve such richness. It is after 8 p.m., very dark, very windy and my whole office staff is in our front compound sticking popsicle sticks to cardboard cards to make little kiddies placards (of Amphibian Ark signs). They are laughing like loons … it is just lovely. Life has its compensations doesn’t it?” People who spend their days and nights saving wildlife are truly exceptional and inspiring.

  2. yes

    if i had enough money i would go back to uni and do zoology so i could get into this line of work.

    i have added you as a link as well

  3. Solid news on the Amphibian Ark front: The association of biology teachers is lining up with Amphibian Ark to take on the fight to save hundreds of endangered species of frogs and other amphibians. Jeff Corwin’s video thanking them, and a link to the news release, are posted on my frog blog:
    This is really important. Consider the sheer, numerical power of the partnership:
    •There are 6,000 biology teachers that are in the association…
    •And let’s say each of them has 100 students…
    •And each of those students has a sibling, and 1.5 parents, and 2 grandparents, and 2 close friends — and tells them all about the crisis
    •That’s 6,000 teachers, 600,000 students, another 600,000 sisters and brothers, 900,000 parents, 1.2 million grandparents, and another 1.2 million friends — all informed, spreading the word, demanding and taking action

    Like a frog jumping into a pond, the ripple effect of biology teachers rallying behind Amphibian Ark can be transformational for this cause. So I salute the teachers, and Jeff Corwin for doing all he can to raise awareness. You’re making a huge difference.

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