endangered species


The Kihansi spray toad used to live in the spray region of the Kihansi waterfall, in Tanzania, and relied heavily on the spray from the waterfall to maintain a constant temperature and humidity in its environment. But due to the construction of a dam which funded by the World Bank, the waterfall has been disrupted, and the Kihansi spray toad has recently been declared Extinct in the Wild.

A number of small populations of this species exist in US zoos, and in spit of several setbacks with the initial population of 500 animals that were collected, the current population now sits at around 470 animals.

How many more species will become extinct in the wild, relying entirely on ex situ “ark” populations for their survival, before we start to take better care of our planet and ALL of its inhabitants?

More information on the Kihansi spray toad can be found here.

Rabb's fringe-limbed tree frog

Rabb's fringe-limbed tree frog. Photo: Brad Wilson.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has just released its 2009 Red List, and it includes over 17,000 species that are currently threatened by extinctin. The Red List is a comprehensive, global approach for evaluating the conservation status of animal and plant species. This method of evaluation began in 1994, and forthcoming Red List workshops will now include the Amphibian Ark’s Conservation Needs Assessment process to evaluate and prioritize amphibians for the specific conservation needs.

The 2009 list contains 1,895 amphibian species that are threatened due to deforestation, climate change, disease and other factors.

The Kihansi spray toad of southern Tanzania is now thought to be extinct in the wild. A dam upstream of Kihansi Falls has dried up the gorge where it lived, and an aggressive fungal disease known as chytridiomycosis appears to have pushed the toad population over the edge, the group said.

The same fate could soon befall the unusually large Rabb’s fringe-limbed tree frog, which glides through the forest using its big webbed feet to steer safely to the ground. It is the only known frog species where the tadpoles feed off skin shed by the male while he guards the young.

The chytrid fungus that causes chytridiomycosis reached central Panama in 2006, a year after scientists first discovered the tree frog. Since then the fungus — believed to be spread by international trade and global warming — has virtually wiped out the wild frog population.

Click here for the full article about the 2009 Red List update.

Last week, I was thrilled to be working with Dr. Roberto Ibanez from the Smithsonian Institute and Heidi Ross and Edgardo Griffith, from the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center, to administer a three-day husbandry essentials workshop in El Valle de Anton, Panama.

Consulting instructors Allan Pessier (San Diego Zoo), Brad Wilson (Veterinarian, Atlanta), Robert Hill (Atlanta Botanical Garden) and Joe Mendelson (Zoo Atlanta) also attended and participated in lectures and hand’s on demonstrations aimed at training staff and students in the essential husbandry techniques for maintaining assurance populations of endangered amphibians at facilities in Panama.

The collaborative efforts of the Panamanian Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project (www.amphibianrescue.org) being launched at the Summit Zoo outside of Panama city aims to rescue dozens of species utilizing biosecure shipping containers and down the line to provide animals for important chytrid research in situ. Working at this facility, some of the students participating in this workshop will become the next stewards of panamanian amphibians.

Rhinoderma darwinii. Photo by Mono Andes

Rhinoderma darwinii. Photo by Mono Andes

Just back from a very quick but productive trip to Santiago and Concepcion to see the current breeding facilities for Darwin’s Frog Rhinoderma darwinii. This unique species was historically found in many places in Chile and Argentina but habitat loss and other pressures have worked to dwindle its numbers. The only other species of Darwin’s Frog Rhinoderma rufum has not been seen in many years and continues to elude field researchers. Both exhibit forms of parental care with the male carrying tadpoles in it’s vocal sack.  

The National Zoo facility in Santiago is coming along really well. The building looks fantastic and will surely be a treat for visitors peering into the lab. Atlanta Botanical Gardens staff were there recently installing tanks and plumbing and Marcela and Mauricio are working hard to get things polished off. It will serve as an excellent facility for showcasing this important conservation effort and the commitments of the players to keep it going. I think they hope to start with a few specimens this winter if I recall. The Atlanta Botanical Garden has launched a website at  www.savedarwinsfrogs.org detailing their efforts on this project. 
The Concepcion facility is also looking good. Marcela Tirado and I visited for the day and by luck met up with Klaus Busse who was in town. Klaus offered much of his wonderful experience to Dr. Juan Carlos Ortiz and graduate student Carlos Barrientos who have been maintaining eleven animals there since April 09. I witnessed a very solid connection made between National Zoo and Concepcion staff regarding husbandry issues, food colonies, and overall collaboration on their programs.
My hunch is that they will reproduce them very soon, as we observed calling and amplexus all day! 

Here is a great video about 82 tadpoles that were rescued from a nearly dry creek in the San Jacinto Mountains, now being brought to maturity by the San Diego Zoo’s center for Conservation and Research for Endangered Species. What makes this all the more remarkable is that the adults will be California mountain yellow-legged frogs, near the top of the most endangered amphibian species list for North America.  Here’s the complete story.

bbc-bristol.jpg

Here’s an excellent gallery of photos from the Bristol Zoo’s leapfrog event, by BBC Bristol. Among the many things written on Dec. 31 or Jan. 1, there were dozens of comments that stood out to me. But here is just a sample. (In each excerpt or quote there is a link to the original story.)

The Chinese calendar may designate 2008 as the Year of the Rat, but in wildlife terms it is very definitely the year of the frog. Conservationists are dedicating the next 12 months to saving frogs and other amphibians, such as toads, newts and salamanders, which are now threatened as never before by a disease which seems to be exacerbated by global warming.

The coming year is playing out to be a pivotal one for many of the planet’s endangered species; whether or not they endure will – to a large extent – depend on the steps humanity takes to protect their habitats and avert the worst of global warming. Few are perhaps as vulnerable as amphibians.

A twilight Frog Concert will be held on February 29 at Melbourne Zoo.

“This was a fun way of bringing home some very serious messages about the future many amphibian species face and a great launch pad for Year of the Frog.”

The chytrid fungus is such a threat to amphibians that it is estimated that 500 species need to be taken into captivity to prevent them from dying out.

“Amphibians have been around for over 360 million years, enduring at least three mass extinction events, including the one that eliminated the dinosaurs. But amphibian species are becoming extinct at a pace faster than anything we have experienced,”

Scientists say the worldwide decline of amphibians is one of the world’s most pressing environmental concerns;one that may portend greater threats to the ecological balance of the planet.

Scientists now fear that the largest species mass extinction since the dinosaurs will likely happen in our time and among the most endangered are amphibians including frogs, toads, newts, salamanders, and caecilians.

Time’s fun when you’re having flies.  :-)

Thanks to hundreds of hopping children and their parents, dozens of caring zoos, a lot of reporters and bloggers, and the compassion of authorities like Sir David Attenborough and Jeff Corwin, the global campaign to save amphibians got a nice lift on the eve of the Year of the Frog.

sir-david-with-zsl-frog-statue.jpg

LONDON — Sir David Attenborough applies finishing touches to the new frog sculpture at the London Zoo. Story here.

BANGLADESH — Below, kids at the Dhaka Zoo in Bangladesh have some leapfrog fun. (Here’s story from Daily Star in Bangladesh.)

bangladesh-12-31.jpg

living-desert-leapfrog-12-31.jpg

LOS ANGELES – Above, The Living Desert’s leapfrog event (in California), and story from The Desert Sun. 

ST. LOUIS — Below, the St. Louis Zoo gets kids leapfrogging, photo courtesy of KSDK-TV.

st-louis-leapfrog-ksdk-12-31.jpg

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (below, left), and WIRRAL, UK (right), with story.

uae-12-31.jpg chester-zoo-12-31-07.jpg

We know of other news stories on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day including some in LondonIndia; India’s national newspaper; Scotland; Australia; London again; United Arab Emirates; Bangladesh (see above); as well as a list of VIBs (B for bloggers) mentioned in the previous post.

More to come.

« Previous PageNext Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 33 other followers