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2008: Year of the Frog

15 January 2008

The world's amphibians are severely threatenedThe World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) have announced that up to half of amphibian species could be wiped out in coming years through habitat loss and climate change - the biggest mass extinction since dinosaurs disappeared.

IUCN, the World Conservation Union, which is taking part in the Amphibian Ark programme, said 1,856 of the 5,743 known amphibian species were threatened with extinction.

"The world botanic gardens community can play a crucial role in helping to save the planet's critically endangered amphibian species," said WAZA president Karen Sausman at a meeting in Budapest.

As part of the campaign, which needs to raise up to $60 million in funding, WAZA also set up a petition calling on all governments to take action to beat the amphibian crisis and agreed to an Amphibian Ark captive breeding programme.

"It's both our obligation and our privilege to help these glorious animals. We invite all people around the world to help amphibians survive by signing our global petition and contributing to fund this initiative," Sausman added.

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 Get the frog facts - click to download (PDF 5.8MB)

The programme will bring priority amphibian species into dedicated facilities at zoos and aquariums as well as botanic gardens and other institutions around the world for safekeeping and breeding.

The creatures will be released back into the wild when the original threats have been controlled.

WAZA, which hopes its petition will be signed by the millions of people who visit zoos and aquariums each year, appointed world renowned British naturalist David Attenborough as patron of the Year of the Frog.

"Without an immediate and sustained conservation effort to support captive management, hundreds of species of these wonderful creatures could become extinct in our own lifetime," he said.

"But implementation calls for financial and political support from all parts of the world."


10 Good Reasons to Save the Frogs

 1. After surviving for 360 million years, one-third to one-half of all amphibian species
are in danger of becoming extinct…..potentially the single greatest disappearance of species since the dinosaurs.
2. Amphibians matter. They play a critical role in the ecosystems as both predator and
prey, they perform a pest control service and their skin has substances that offer promising medicinal cures for humans.
3. The ex situ programme provides a real solution for those amphibians endangered by
the most urgent threat, chytrid fungus.
4. Many people don’t know how important or threatened amphibians are. This is a chance for botanic gardens to excel at one of their most important roles: education. Its also an opportunity to demonstrate how plant and animal species interact.
5. This is truly the first global initiative to save endangered animals. Botanic gardens can play a vital role in this unified effort.
6. Participation provides an opportunity to engage your local community in a global crisis.
7. The crisis provides a unique opportunity to demonstrate to the world that botanic gardens are valid and powerful conservation partners
8. The efforts of this global collaboration can lay the groundwork for future global conservation efforts.
9. We cannot stand by and watch hundreds of these exquisite species become extinct in our lifetime……especially when ex situ captive breeding provides a viable yet simple solution. If we do not respond immediately and on an unprecedented scale, much of an entire vertebrate class will be lost, and we will have failed in our most basic conservation mission.
 10. Amphibian Ark demonstrates to humankind what can be accomplished by people working together for a common cause. The result will be empowerment for the public to get involved in solving future problems and responding to future crises.


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