Sir David Attenborough was interviewed about the amphibian crisis on BBC radio on Jan. 3. This is what he said:

“Frogs have been dying out, for some reason or another, over the last ten years, and for a long time… I mean, some of it’s to do with pesticide pollution, some of it’s to do with loss of habitat… but there has been a mysterious disease which we have now identified.  It’s a kind of fungus.  Frogs breathe through their skins, their moist skins, and this fungus grows on the skin and eventually clogs it and so the frogs die of suffocation.   And at the moment there is no cure, and the disease is steadily spreading its way around the world.”

“There are some 5,000 species of frogs around the world.  But they play an unobtrusive but very crucial part in the ecology of any region.  Frogs, for example, feed on mosquito larvae.  Mosquito larvae, at least some species of them, carry diseases.  If there are no frogs eating the larvae, there could be a great increase in the number of mosquitoes around.  Equally, there are reptiles and mammals – and birds, particularly – which live on frogs.  If they don’t find food from the frogs, they too will become endangered.  So once you lose a major element in an ecological system, the echoes, the consequences, are widespread and very, very difficult to predict.”

 Interviewer:  But if there is no cure for this fungus that is causing much of the problems, what can we do?

“Well, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which are those responsible societies and organisations which are concerned about conservation, it’s quite easy, relatively easy for them to set up bio secure breeding areas.  For example, you can get a normal container that ships use to transport goods, and you can convert that into a biologically secure environment in which you can take a population of frogs and preserve it and keep it biologically secure until we have sorted out how we can deal with this disease, and then we may be able to release them in the wild.”

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