Amphibian Ark’s patron, Sir David Attenborough, talks about the plight of amphibians around the world, and lends his support to conserving amphibians.
Almost everyone can recognise frogs and toads. They are those extraordinary vertebrate animals which change from egg to adult by undergoing metamorphosis. This remarkable process played a crucial part in these animals’ pioneering invasion of the land. It demonstrates evolution compressed into just a few weeks and it sparks our imagination.
Today, amphibians can be found in enormous variety and occupy a wide range of water and land habitats – except for the oceans and the frozen polar regions. They are so familiar to most people that they have become part of the myths, legends, and folk tales of many cultures. And there is still much more for us to learn about them for new species are being discovered even today.
Yet their habitats are being destroyed at such a speed that now many species may disappear before we even discover that they exist.
Infections of chytrid fungus, for which there is no known cure, are today spreading rapidly and threatening entire species. There is thus the real possibility that much of an entire category of animals may become extinct worldwide – unless we prepare to act quickly. Captive breeding has been shown by the scientific community to be one of the most important and appropriate ways to slow down the effects of this crisis.
Selected species, bred in favorable ex situ conditions, can multiply and prosper to such an extent that populations can be released into secure environments in the wild. The IUCN Amphibian and Conservation Breeding Specialist Groups and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums have therefore launched The Amphibian Ark to support such ex situ projects around the world. The global zoo and aquarium community have taken on this challenge with enthusiasm and are providing appropriate facilities and breeding grounds within their institutions. But implementation calls for financial and political support from all parts of the world.
I, therefore, extend a warm invitation to all of you to join the 2008 Year of the Frog global campaign. Its main goal is to generate public awareness and understanding of the amphibian extinction crisis. The funds raised from this worldwide campaign will help support AArk coordination activities and finance regional initiatives such as rescues, training workshops, and cooperatively managed centres. It will also ensure the sustainability of surviving populations by creating a cash fund that will extend far beyond 2008.
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.
Sir David Attenborough
Patron, 2008 Year of the Frog