Leaping ahead for frogs

The Endangered Wildlife Trust hosts annual events to raise awareness on the plight of endangered frogs; the organisation aims to show South Africans how they can help protect frogs at home.

frogs

 

FROGS are amphibians; they are often born and live in water, before maturing and leading a 'double life'; living in water and on land. Their webbed feet are great for swimming, and they can survive on land, looking for food if it's scarce in the water.

 

They are mostly carnivorous and are what ecologists call "bio-indicators". Because frogs actually drink water, and breathe, through their skins, they are very sensitive to toxins in polluted air and water. If frogs struggle to live in an area, it is probably badly polluted.
 
They are also, as a result of their sensitivity, endangered; since 1980, some 120 amphibian species have disappeared. There are just 4 740 species of frogs across the world.

To raise awareness about frogs in the wild and their plight, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is holding its second National Awareness Day, Leap Day for Frogs, on 28 February.

 

Leap Day for Frogs
Dr Jeanne Tarrant, manager at the EWT's Threatened Amphibian Programme (EWT-TAP), says "What many South Africans don't know is that frogs play a key role in our indigenous ecosystems because they act as both a predator of insects, some of which are disease-spreading, as well as being prey for a host of other species. Their habitats are sources of freshwater and also assist in water filtration and flood reduction."

 

There are 160 frog species in South Africa, of which 30% are threatened due to habitat destruction, increasing levels of pollution in freshwater systems, disease and changes in climate.

Tarrant adds, "Frogs are also important bio-indicators due to their sensitive skins and because they inhabit both aquatic and terrestrial environments. In other words, if they are around, it means our environment is healthy. The fact that one third of our frogs could potentially disappear is a warning sign that our natural environs are in jeopardy and that urgent conservation action is crucial."

 

Unlike many conservation programmes, where the average South African can only donate funds, or which are more global, the Leap Day initiative will raise awareness on how to help conserve frogs in environments across the country.

 

"The conservation of frogs is so closely related to existing environmental management and conservation policies and practices, that it's really just a matter of paying more attention to them," says Tarrant.

 

The Leap Day campaign will provide information on what people, businesses and government can do to rehabilitate amphibian habitats, and create environments friendly to frogs.

The initiative will focus on threatened species such as the critically endangered Pickersgill's Reed Frog from KwaZulu-Natal, the critically endangered Amathole Toad from the Eastern Cape and the endangered Western Leopard Toad from the Western Cape.

Kwazulu-Natal residents in Mtunzini and Kloof can attend events in their towns on 28 February; Mtunzini is home to the Pickersgill's Reed Frog.  Kloof residents can look forward to a guided walk through the Glenholme Nature Reserve at 5pm, with information on how they can help save endangered frogs.

On Sunday, 1 March, Hogsback school pupils are invited to attend a wetland clean-up and a trail run on the Amathole Trail, while Noordhoek, Hout Bay and Stanford residents can look forward to presentations on the Western Leopard Toad. In the Eastern Cape, the Amathole Toad will be high on the agenda.
 
The Leap Frog initiative also invites schools, businesses and individuals to plan activities to raise awareness in their classrooms, offices, neighbourhoods or homes. The Endangered Wildlife Trust has set up the Leap Frog Day website, with loads of information and ideas for educational activities for budding conservationists.

 

More about frogs
Amphibians are cold-blooded; they take on the temperature of their surroundings - warm-blooded animals maintain a constant body temperature regardless of their environment. They are found across the planet, anywhere there is fresh water, with the exception of the Antarctic, and can tolerate even extreme environments as they have adapted to survive them.

 

They are well-known for their remarkably leaping skills; many frogs can leap up to 20 times their body length; the South African Cape River Frog, just 5 cm long, holds the world record for frog jumping – the longest distance covered in three consecutive jumps – at 10.3 m.

 

For further information about the EWT-TAP and Leap Day for Frogs contact Jeanne Tarrant on \n jeannet@ewt.org.za This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Close Window << Back to Archived Press Releases