A solid story on Amphibian Ark and the crisis from the city of Johannesburg’s Web site. Nice to see the global collaboration with quotes from the CEOs of zoos (Johannesburg and St. Louis) that are 14,153 kilometers separated from one another. Here’s an excerpt:

The mass extinction of amphibian species would be catastrophic, say the experts, who are calling on all people to help save frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians.

A THIRD to a half of all amphibian species is in danger of disappearing in our lifetime, says Steven van der Spuy, the chief executive officer of the Johannesburg Zoo.

Amphibians, which act as bio-indicators, are listed as threatened; their potential mass extinction could be the most cataclysmic since the dinosaur era. But the Amphibian Ark is racing to the rescue, partnering the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, and the IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group.

 The SSC is the Species Survival Commission; it is a unit of the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, based in Switzerland.

Having declared 2008 the Year of the Frog, the Amphibian Ark and its partners are working to raise awareness crucial to the survival of amphibians, and to draw attention to conservation efforts. Calls are being made to the public, the United Nations, governments, international organisations and world zoos to team up to save the species.

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 1 856 of the 5 743 known amphibian species – almost one in three – are threatened with extinction. “The [Johannesburg Zoo] has made resources and space available for the captive propagation of these frogs,” Van der Spuy notes.

Amphibian species in the city have declined markedly in recent years, mainly because of the destruction and degradation of their habitats – mostly wetlands – for the construction of residential developments.