Wanted Alive: worldwide hunt for frogs and other amphibians

Wanted Alive: worldwide hunt for frogs and other amphibians
Costa Rican golden toad

Conservation International and the IUCI Amphibian Specialist Group have put out an “all points bulletin” for dozens of (possibly) extinct toads, frogs and salamanders. The list, includes the Costan Rican golden toad (pictured here), which was pushed into extinction within just a year or two in the late 1980s, and is designed to (hopefully) allow scientists to located as many as 40 species in 18 countries across Latin America, Africa and Asia.

It is now believed that over 30% of all amphibians are threatened with extinction. In fact, a “before and after survey” of a national park in Panama found that nearly 40% of the amphibian species in one little area had vanished between 2004 and 2008.

"Amphibians are particularly sensitive to changes in the environment, so they are often an indicator of damage that is being done to ecosystems," stated Conservation International's Robin Moore. “But this role as ‘canary in a coal mine' also means that the rapid and profound change to the global environment that has taken place over the last 50 years or so has caused devastating habitat loss for these animals.”

Another deadly threat, has been from a pathogenic fungus that causes a disease known as chytridiomycosis. The disease, has wiped out whole species in the Americas. To save some of the frogs, conservationists have airlifted them to other areas as well as to zoos in order to “buy time while scientists figure out how to fight the fungus.”

Protecting the amphibians “isn't just a good idea for the amphibians. Frogs, toads and salamanders play an important part in keeping insects at bay and recycling nutrients.” They may also be a source of (next-generation) medicines and painkillers. In fact, the “amphibian-killing fungus may have been transported around the world by a frog that was once exported for use in pregnancy tests.”

Local schools can download a “Wanted Alive” poster suitable for hanging in classroom by going to http://www.conservation.org/documents/CI_Wanted_Lost_Frogs.pdf

For more information about the varieties of ambibians native to Connecticut, contact the Department of Environmental Protection, 79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106-5127 860 424-3000