The mission of The Herpetological Society of Ireland is to advance, and promote, awareness and understanding of herpetofauna, the conservation of native & exotic herpetofauna, and herpetoculture through education, learning and research.

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][text_output]Collie Ennis is an associate of research at Trinity College Dublin and a Science Officer for The Herpetological Society of Ireland (HSI) and has been fascinated by frogs and newts since he was only a tadpole himself. In this Amphibian Hero spotlight Collie talks to us about his work with the HSI and how you can make a difference too.

Amphibians the world over are facing probably the world’s most serious extinction crisis. What are your thoughts on the future prospects for amphibian conservation and preventing further extinctions?

I think that getting the word out to the masses is the most important task amphibian conservationists need to do. From my own personal experience, I think that many people just aren’t aware how serious this problem is. Public awareness and getting them to understand the issue at hand is half the battle. I think if we can achieve this in local communities globally then there is a chance to stop and even reverse the global amphibian die off.

What do you think are some of the most promising developments in the fight to prevent further amphibian population declines?

Well, one that I am personally involved in is the citizen science movement which gets local people involved in surveying, taking numerical records and habitat management of local amphibian populations in Ireland. This is a model that I think could be copied successfully worldwide as it makes people aware of problems in species that they have great affection for and which they otherwise thought were doing fine and therefore just took for granted.

HSI_logoWhy did you join the Alliance and what are you doing to help protect amphibians?

We (the HSI) joined the Alliance because of our deep concern about the amphibian crisis. I think it is a great way for international groups to share knowledge and ideas about different conservation methods and public outreach ideas under one banner.

Over the years I have been setting up ponds in local schools and parks to alleviate pressure on urban amphibian populations, one local pub even kindly allowed me to put some frog spawn in an unused water feature which is now a regular breeding site! A few years ago I also started to recreate breeding pools, using old tires filled with scrap pond liner to great effect, to encourage a rejuvenation in amphibian populations at sites where natural or man-made disruption has occurred.

Most importantly I think working with the HSI has allowed me to engage with members of the public about these wonderful creatures. I find that once you remind people of the wonders of collecting frog spawn and watching tadpoles grow they experienced as a child and point out that their children or grandchildren might not be able to experience that magic it makes it very real indeed and generally sparks an interest in doing something practical to help.

What can the average person, as well as the private sector, do in order to tangibly and actively participate in amphibian conservation?

Conserve and create more habitat. While captive breeding programmes are vital I think it’s critical that there is somewhere clean and habitable for reintroduced populations to go and for populations that might be under pressure to spread out to. In my own area in Dublin we have managed to reintroduce large numbers of native frogs and newts into urban areas, where they had previously vanished from, just by asking local people to make small adjustments in their gardens (small permanent water feature, some shade and cover) which most were glad to do once they heard they benefits of having an army of nocturnal slug munchers working for free on their prize cabbage patches or flower beds! Imagine encouraging those kinds of simple, yet highly effective, modifications on an industrial scale in organic farms and such. I think the future could be very bright indeed for our froggy friends and co. if we can just get that message across.[/text_output][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″]

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