Frogs matter - Jump in!
Worldwide, 30 to 50 percent of the amphibians are in danger of extinction. Every year, about a dozen species disappear. This is the worst loss of species since the end of the dinosaurian era! To act against this crisis, a unique alliance of zoos, organisations for nature conservation , scientific institutions and many highly engaged individuals has been build. To maintain the extraordinary amphibian diversity, we have to get as many people as possible into action. The Stiftung Artenschutz invites you to jump in!
The amphibian crisis
The usually known causes for the extinction of frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibian species are the loss of their habitat trough human activities, the pollution, the spreading of invasive species and the consumption of amphibians. Without diminishing the significance of these causes, scientists have discovered a further terrific factor of the amphibian crisis that commands a special attention. A fungal skin disease (chytrid fungus), presumably originating from the south of Africa, spreads in a wave-like fashion, often destroying entire amphibian populations as it goes. This disease is to be found on all continents because of the human mobility. Where it thrives, 50 % of species and 80 % of individuals can be expected to disappear within one year!
Why do we need the amphibians?
Amphibians play a crucial function in the balance of the ecological system. Furthermore, they limit the spreading of insects, including those that propagate diseases. Thus, they considerably contribute to agricultural productivity and to the control of epidemics. In the medicine, the amphibians provide also vital biomedicines for diverse disease like depression, strokes, epileptic seizures, Alzheimer's and cancer. Moreover, these animals can be seen as important "indicators" of environmental health. Because their skin helps them to drink and breathe, they are very sensitive to environmental contaminants like agricultural, industrial and pharmaceutical chemicals. Therefore, their health indicates the degree of wellbeing of ecosystems, which has a direct impact on human beings.
To save the amphibians, their habitats have to be well-protected, large-scale scientific research has to take place and more public awareness about the situation is needed. But scientists believe many species may go extinct before long term actions start being efficient, especially because of the chytrid fungus disease. In fact, there is presently no thinkable way to combat against it in the wild, even if it is possible in laboratories. For this reason, the attention is now focussed on one currently available option which can save hundreds or even thousands of species if we act rapidly: captive breeding in zoos, aquaria and other institutions. These can play a crucial role in providing a long-term survival for amphibians, which adequate protection in the wild is not currently feasible.
Prompted by the alarming global amphibian decline, the German-speaking zoo associations as well as private participants in the German-speaking region engaged actively in the conservation of this highly endangered animal group. The amphibian conservation program consist of a suite of measures that include amphibian conservation and research projects, conservation breeding, capacity building, specialized staff training, habitat restoration and public awareness campaigns.
A special account “Amphibian Conservation Fund” was set up for financing amphibian conservation measures. Stiftung Artenschutz (Species’ Conservation Foundation) holds the Amphibian Conservation Fund in trust for the German zoo associations as well as private participants in the German-speaking region, which decide on the fund allocation.
The Stiftung Artenschutz collects donations for amphibian conservation projects and actively supports the campaign in Germany by providing information and education materials!