I grew up in the South, surrounded by the music of frogs chirping. They were an important sign that spring was coming, like crocuses poking up in the garden. Nowadays it is rare to see a frog, or even to hear a stray RIBBIT by the pond. This is not something you think about until you DO see one and think, “Wow, a frog!” What changed that made it such an event to see one of the green fellas? Kermit excluded, of course.
In the 1980s, scientists began to notice that global frog populations were falling off. Some species had even dropped into extinction. In 2004, the results of a global “Amphibian Assessment” study were published. Researchers found that 32% of species were globally threatened, 43% were in a state of population decrease, and that between 9 and 122 species have gone extinct since the early ’80s. This decline of the amphibian population is a critical hit to global biodiversity.
So, why is this happening? It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact reason. Ongoing studies intend to explore various possibilities, including (but not limited to) habitat loss, disease, and climate change. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and other global organizations have joined to seek answers and formulate plans. One of the resulting initiatives is the Amphibian Ark: “Our vision is the world’s amphibians safe in nature, and our mission is ensuring the global survival of amphibians, focusing on those that cannot currently be safeguarded in nature.”
Vermont Bullfrog. Photo by jE Norton (Flickr).
When faced with a global crisis like this, it’s easy to shake your head and give up. We are not singularly capable of making a real difference–or are we? Protecting amphibian environments can be as simple as picking up trash when you see it on the street, thus reducing runoff pollution. If you want to get a little more involved, try organizing your neighborhood to clean up local bodies of water. Talk to farmers about reducing or stopping their use of contaminatory chemicals. Consider donating to Amphibian Ark to further their efforts. These are all viable options that are available to anyone with time, energy, and/or a few extra dollar.
Environmental preservation is everyone’s responsibility. We are the stewards of this beautiful world. It is up to us to protect Nature’s vulnerable creatures from the harmful consequences of human action.
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