Leaping Ahead of Extinction
To coincide with Leap Day, Amphibian Ark has launched a new international event that is celebrating the successes achieved in amphibian conservation, both in the wild and captivity. The organisation is a branch of the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group Conservation division, with the target of implementing an Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP).
The focus of the event will be to promote programmes already in place that are connecting in-situ and ex-situ rescue for endangered amphibians, and also to encourage other institutions to join in and help spread awareness of worldwide research. Among the institutions in the UK taking part include Chester Zoo, Paignton Zoo, and Froglife in Peterborough, who want to inspire members of the public to visit and find out more about their amphibian conservation programmes by putting on special interactive events on and around the 29th of February.
Perth Zoo in Western Australia has recently successfully bred the White-bellied Frog (Geocrinia alba) for the first time in captivity, which is a critically endangered EDGE species with a ranking of 111. In the wild, the eggs have a high level of mortality due largely to predation, so head-starting them in captivity protects them through this highly vulnerable stage. They also released a total of 31 white-bellied frogs head-started in the south-west of Western Australia in 2011, and estimate that approximately 80% of the individuals released last year are still present at the site. The hope is that the additional frogs will contribute to the establishment of a self-sustaining population. Additionally, important work has been carried out by the Manchester Museum and Bristol Zoo to implement a captive breeding programme for the Costa Rican Lemur Leaf Frog (Agalychnis lemur), another EDGE species in need.
Amphibians are at more imminent risk of extinction than any other animal class. Over 32% are listed as globally endangered, half of all known species are declining, and as many as 165 amphibian species may already be extinct. The EDGE of Existence programme aims to help reverse the crisis threatening these extraordinary animals, drawing public attention to species such as the purple frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis), discovered in 2003, and the Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus), the largest living amphibian in the world.
This leap year why not fundraise for frogs? Or be a Champion for the Caecilians?