Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) has built its success upon a foundation of excellence in Exploration, Research and Conservation. GWC envisions a world with diverse and abundant wildlife, a truly Wild World. They are dedicated to ensuring that the species on the verge of extinction aren’t lost but prosper well into the future. Wes Sechrest—GWC’s Chief Scientist and CEO—sat down with us to discuss GWC’s role in global amphibian conservation efforts and how you can become an amphibian ambassador.
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?
There’s no doubt that amphibians are facing a daunting number of challenges, and that’s true around the globe. While we know about some of these threats, we are still discovering others. Take, for example, the recent paper on the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans that has invaded Europe and is deadly to salamanders. It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Since joining the Alliance several years ago, we’ve seen a real movement to alter the otherwise inevitable future for amphibians. There are so many great individuals and organizations working to save amphibians that there is a lot of hope. Just take the Leapfrog Conservation Fund, for example. The fund clearly demonstrates an interest in getting serious about saving amphibians. We’re also proud to see not just the scientists and conservationists come together, but entire communities that are embracing the intrinsic value of their species of frogs, salamanders and caecilians and mobilizing to action.
What do you think are some of the most promising developments in the fight to prevent further amphibian population declines?
As I mentioned, the Leapfrog Conservation Fund is an incredible resource for individuals and organizations looking to create new reserves or expand existing reserves for vital amphibian habitat. We also know that bringing together different disciplines to address large-scale issues will be key to any success. We were encouraged to see that happening at the recent workshop “A Conservation Strategy for the Amphibians of Madagascar” in Madagascar, where partner organizations from around the world rallied to address what could be a dire situation in Madagascar. With that said, the Alliance itself is one of the biggest developments in the battle against amphibian declines – uniting organizations to tackle such a large issue together. The Alliance has enabled our group, Global Wildlife Conservation, to work with many new partners and better leverage our impact around the world. We aren’t the only Alliance partners that feel this way. I am really excited to see what we can all do to help the Alliance accomplish its important mission.
Why are you supporting the work of the Alliance and what is GWC doing to help protect amphibians?
GWC has always—and will always—be focused on species conservation. We support those species that get less attention than they need, for example the rare Saola in Southeast Asia. Amphibians are really our planet’s jewels, beautiful animals that fill our world with color and music. So of course amphibians and reptiles have always been high on our agenda. We often work closely with other organizations to provide them support and expertise to help them grow. The Alliance was focused on a group of species we care deeply about and it needed significant organizational investment to have the global standing and impact needed to truly make a difference for amphibians. We knew our support would help the organization accomplish more conservation objectives for amphibians, so it was an easy decision for us to get involved.
What can the average person, as well as the private sector, do in order to tangibly and actively participate in amphibian conservation?
The reality is that in order for the Alliance to grow and become a serious powerhouse for amphibian conservation, it’s going to take lots of support over the coming years. So for those in a position to do so, I would strongly encourage you to support the Alliance financially. However, financial support is only part of the challenge. We need more people to become amphibian ambassadors, to talk about amphibians, understand the threats they face, and to figure out how that might very well impact our own lives (and visa versa). I like to make a habit of telling my friends one or two interesting stories about amphibians. It doesn’t need to be—nor should it be—negative, but let’s raise awareness that actions can make a difference. Share posts through your social channels, get your friends to follow the Alliance on social media, share FrogLog with colleagues. The reality is everyone can play a role in saving amphibians.
And everyone should.
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