The coming year is playing out to be a pivotal one for many of the planet's endangered species; whether or not they endure will - to a large extent - depend on the steps humanity takes to protect their habitats and avert the worst of global warming. Few are perhaps as vulnerable as amphibians: According to leading conservationists, one third to one half of the world's 6,000 amphibian species - frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians - are facing extinction. Some believe that 165 species may have already gone extinct in recent years.
Amphibian Ark (AArk), an organization dedicated to the preservation of amphibians, is launching a global public awareness campaign - "The Year of the Frog" - in 2008 aimed at: "to generate public awareness and understanding of the amphibian extinction crisis which represents the greatest species conservation challenge in the history of humanity." The campaign places an onus on fostering the cooperation of zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums around the world; much of the money raised will go towards training courses, technical guidance and communication activities.
Starting today, participating zoos will hold leapfrog events to help raise awareness of the campaign and to usher in "The Year of the Frog"; visitors will be invited to partake in the children's game, forming leapfrog lines and hopping over each other to focus attention on the amphibians' plight. Many countries with zoos, including, by time zone, New Zealand, Australia, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, U.A.E., Russia, South Africa, Latvia, Sweden, Hungary, Germany, U.K., U.S., Mexico and Columbia, have already committed to participate in the inaugural event.
TreeHugger is joining with many other well-known conservation and wildlife experts to support the campaign, and you can follow all the blog posts explaining the amphibian crisis on AArk's website. For some more background on the campaign, we also recommend you check out Jeff Davis' always informative (and entertaining) Frog Matters blog. In addition to a list of ways to get involved (you can sign the petition here), Davis is also featuring a great selection of videos from AArk officers and top conservationists.