Get your webbed feet hopping with this video from the Missouri Department of Conservation that I somehow missed last year.
June 11, 2009
May 7, 2009
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Daniel Craig, Prince Charles, Pele, Prince William, Prince Harry, Robin Williams, Joss Stone, Harrison Ford, and Kermit the Frog costar with a bright, green frog for a video PSA supporting the Prince’s Rainforest Project. There is a frog in every scene, and no other animal, which underscores that people are starting to get it: amphibians are the canaries in the coal mine for our planet’s health — and our personal health, too. As you check out the Prince’s Rainforest Project, keep Amphibian Ark in mind, as well.
Wish we had been able to pull off something this magnificent during 2008 the year of the frog. But what a great boost to 2009.
April 30, 2009
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With hours to go before the close of April 30, I proudly report that Frogmatters has had a record month for visits. I know it’s not up there with Treehugger.com or Mongabay.com, but it’s great to see continued and growing interest in the amphibian crisis — even after 2008 which was declared the Year of the Frog. Continued thanks to Amphibian Ark for all they are doing.
December 16, 2008
Amphibian Ark has recapped highlights of the year of the frog in a newsletter I just received. Am pasting it below for any of you not on the email list:
The end of the Year of the Frog…the beginning of the Decade of the Amphibian?
Some of our favourite activities include:
December 2, 2008
There’s a commercial out by the terrific children’s learning system, LeapFrog, in which a man in a frog costume asks a child to choose between 1) using LeapFrog’s interactive books to read a story about Kung Fu Panda or 2) “reading the journal of amphibia species.” The little girl picks the LeapFrog interactive book, of course. Ouch. It would have been a cause for celebration if LeapFrog actually sponsored the rescue of an endangered species — or created an entertaining and educational LeapFrog book about what frogs are facing — rather than make a TV commercial at the expense its namesake. The Year of the Frog is drawing to a close. We need champions. Find out more HERE.
October 21, 2008
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Kudos to Dallas Zoo for this video that captures the key information.
October 14, 2008
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The BBC just filed a report (click here) with some meaty information about the amphibian crisis I hadn’t read before. Environmental correspondent Richard Black interviewed leading conservationists at the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona. Apparently, it was a good opportunity for everyone to take inventory on what has transpired in this “year of the frog.” Excerpts:
This World Conservation Congress saw the release of another Red List. So how did amphibians fare this time around?
“In the intervening four years, we’ve had 366 species added to the Red List,” says Mike Hoffman, who recently helped co-ordinate Threatened Amphibians of the World, the vast, glossy, information-packed book that CI has just brought out.
Here at the World Conservation Congress are many of the scientists who were present that sunny Washington morning and released their prescription for salvation, the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan. So three years on, it is time to ask: how are you doing? First, the money; did it show up?
“It’s hard to say, because there have been a lot of other initiatives as well such as Amphibian Ark, which has a lot of facilities,” says Claude Gascon, co-chair of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Amphibian Specialist Group and a senior scientist with Conservation International (CI).
“But from our perspective we’ve probably had about $10m which has gone directly into tip-of-the-iceberg sites that have been very important for conserving the last of a species.”
Keeping alive all the species we know about, let alone the ones we have yet to discover, is a daunting task, even given the resources that have been mobilised since the launch of the amphibian rescue plan three years ago. But, says Claude Gascon, we have to try.
“I would argue that the story of amphibians is the story of humans. If we don’t get amphibians sorted, the next batch to go extinct may be primates.”
October 9, 2008
When the Titanic hit the iceberg, the crew first told the passengers not to worry. And now that scientists have discovered that a frog killing fungus has somehow jumped the Panama Canal into eastern Panama, they’re explaining it to us in calm, collected prose: “Our results suggest that Panama’s diverse and not fully described amphibian communities east of the canal are at risk. Precise predictions of future disease emergence events are not possible until factors underlying disease emergence, such as dispersal, are understood. However, if the fungal pathogen spreads in a pattern consistent with previous disease events in Panama, then detection of Bd at Tortı´ and other areas east of the Panama Canal is imminent.”
Somebody please sound the alarm and get the frogs into the lifeboats. (More on that in a second.) The discovery that the chytrid fungus has hopped the Panama Canal is the equivalent of a stock market crash for amphibians, and it should strike fear in the heart of every conservationist. Central and South America are home to the planet’s critical mass of ampihbian species.
I’ll be writing about the discovery more in future posts, but for now, go to the scientists’ report in EcoHealth here.
Scientists have feared for some time that the canal would not hold back the spread of chytrid, which clogs amphibians’ delicate skin and basically chokes them to death because they breath through their miraculous skin. This disease, which is indigenous to southern Africa, was accidentally spread around the world in the mid 1900s. The African clawed frog, also indigenous to southern Africa, is immune to the disease and when the medical world discovered the species could be used as a pregnancy test — details here – it was shipped around the world, carrying the disease with it. Chytrid is fatal to 80 percent of amphibian species and has vanquished more than 100 species over the past 20 years.
Which brings us to Amphibian Ark, the organization I support that is in charge of the plan to avert the mass extinction of amphibian species. Studies predict that up to half of the 6,000 amphibian species will go extinct in our lifetime unless emergency measures are taken. It’s not just chytrid killing them off, but also habitat loss, pollution, and global warming. Amphibian Ark organizes zoos and conservation organizations to pluck the most endangered species from the wild, before they vanish, and put them into the “protective custody” of biosecure containers (or “lifeboats”) for breeding. Once the species are brought back to a critical mass population, they can be reintroduced into the wild.
It costs $100,000 to do the work and build the facilities to save one amphibian species. It’s a bargain.
I don’t think I’ve written such a “dramatic” post in this blog, but folks, if there was ever a time to get fired up and take action, this is the moment. The Panama Canal jump is a major breach.
Find out how to help at Amphibian Ark’s Web site. Tell other people. Please. More soon. Can you believe this is happening during the year of the frog?
(I’m grateful for the scientists’ discovery of the Panama Canal jump and don’t mean to be critical of the way they’re writing about the discovery. I know these scientists are passionate about saving amphibians. They’ve just been trained to write in science speak. That’s their job.)
September 29, 2008
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We’ve been talking about at least one-third of amphibian species disappearing in our lifetime unless emergency measures are taken. Now this: scientists with the Zoological Society of London predicting that half of Europe’s amphibian species are en route to extinction by 2050, primarily because of habitat destruction, global warming and the chytrid fungus. Amphibian Ark patron Sir David Attenborough was on hand at the announcement. This is the first time I’ve noticed a specific year mentioned re: impending extinctions. We’re 42 years away from that doomsdate. There is a plan to avert the mass extinction. It’s called Amphibian Ark.
An exceprt from the Zoological Society of London Web site:
“Amphibians are the lifeblood of many environments, playing key roles in the functions of ecosystems, and it is both extraordinary and terrifying that in just a few decades the world could lose half of all these species,” commented Sir David Attenborough. “I am delighted to be working with the Zoological Society of London to promote amphibian conservation, in the hope that we will not be hearing the dying croaks of these amazing creatures in the years to come.”
September 21, 2008
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As he winds down an historic broadcasting career (but never confessing to slowing down), Sir David Attenborough, patron of Amphibian Ark, remains the best publicist amphibians could ever have. In this most recent newspaper interview, his anecdotes skew toward stories of amphibians. Excerpts:
“Even in the last series I did there is a frog which is not around in the wild any more. Soon my films will be more of an archive of animals which once lived.”
“There is a frog in Patagonia that fertilises its eggs in the male’s throat pouch. The female lays it and the male keeps it in its throat while it turns from a tadpole into a frog. Scientists knew this happened but nobody had ever seen the moment the little frog leapt out of his parent’s mouth. We took some frogs and created a special environment for them in Bristol. A cameraman and his assistants kept a 24-hour watch as the tadpole developed. After waiting for 100 hours the cameraman went for a quick pee – and when he dashed back the little frog was sitting there next to its dad. They were gutted. Eventually we did manage to capture the moment.”
Here is a photo from earlier this year capturing Sir David making time for a photo opp for Amphibian Ark during 2008 the year of the frog.