For many frogs, it's the worst of times.
Take the Poison dart frog, for example--the most poisonous vertebrae in the world. These tiny frogs contain enough alkaloid poison in their skin to kill around fifteen people, or two adult elephants. Despite this deterrent, these frogs, native to the forests of South America, are being wiped out as their habitat slowly disappears. On the other end of the extreme, there's the Goliath frog of west Africa, the world's largest frog. Humans eating them or taking them as pets, not to mention habitat loss, has dwindled their numbers as well. So is the case for many frog species around the world, which, for various reasons, have seen their populations plummeting in the last few decades.Intended to raise awareness of these dramatic frog declines, today is Save the Frogs Day. Although only in its second year, events to mark the occasion will be taking place around the world in twenty countries. According to founder Dr. Kerry Kriger, the popularity of Save the Frogs Day shows that people are beginning to understand the importance of preserving our amphibian friends.
This is one of the most significant environmental issues of the 21st century. Save The Frogs Day is all about people stepping up, getting involved, and taking action in their own community, and that's exactly what is happening.
Frog populations have been declining at a shocking rate for the last thirty years, with around 200 species having disappeared entirely. Still, the Global Amphibian Assessment lists 427 species as "critically endangered," facing threats from several fronts. In many cases, like with the Poison dart frog, habitat loss due to deforestation and encroaching development have been a growing problem. One such species, the Golden toad, hasn't been observed in the wild since the late-eighties.
Another factor contributing the decline in frogs throughout the world is the increase use of harmful pesticides and other pollutants. The impact of these toxins on frogs populations has been profound. Biologists have observed frogs that don't die outright from chemical exposure have some disturbing reactions--like changes in sex or other physical malformations.
Then there's the Goliath frog, who must face these threats, and then some. History has shown that there are few things worst for species than becoming a menu item for humans, as the Goliath frog has. Weighing in at around eight pounds, these frogs have been gradually dwindling in numbers as well. Getting frogs off the menu is one of the goals of Save the Frogs Day, with protests planned at restaurants across the US that serve them.
With so many species in the world, as varied as the Poison dart and Goliath frog, it's clear that the planet in its natural order is inclined to support them. But as many of these species become endangered or disappear entirely, the ringing of our discord with nature can be heard so clearly. There is no reason, however, that our influence on frog populations cannot be countered with a little raised awareness.