Workshop attendees © Alejandra Goyenechea

The Singapore Zoo, the Animal Welfare Institute, Defenders of Wildlife and the Amphibian Survival Alliance joined forces in March 2015 to host two international amphibian trade workshops. On March 12th and 13th two teams of amphibian and trade specialists from academia, government, and non-governmental organizations gathered at parallel workshops in Singapore and Washington, DC.

Starting with a list of amphibian species prepared for the workshops, the specialists identified the species most at risk from trade (domestic and international), habitat loss, or due to disease. The species requiring the highest priority actions were selected and needed conservation actions were assigned to each species. The original species list was created using data from the IUCN Red List, CITES trade database, and input from the IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group regional chairs.

Predictably, a number of “priority species” are traded locally, regionally and internationally for consumption as bushmeat or in the frog leg trade. Other species of priority concern including a wide range of salamanders, frogs, and toads are traded internationally for the pet trade. Amphibian exploitation for both the bushmeat and the pet trade involve offtake that is depleting wild populations.

The specialists identified conservation actions for priority species or entire taxa. These included stronger national laws and regulations, improved law enforcement efforts, listing or up-listing in CITES Appendices, improved compliance with international trade standards for CITES-listed species, and ongoing monitoring of trade trends and impacts.

Another threat posed by widely traded amphibian species is disease. Such threats include both Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) fungal infections, Ranavirus, and other viral diseases. Such diseases affect not just amphibians but also some fish and reptiles. While vector amphibian species (including bullfrogs, Xenopus frogs, Korean fire-bellied toads and African dwarf clawed frogs) may not be threatened by trade, their trade exposes other animal populations to potentially devastating emerging infectious diseases. To reduce such risks, actions must be taken to improve implementation of existing veterinary health protocols to identify diseased animals prior to export and stricter measures such as quarantine and disease monitoring of import amphibians must be implemented.

Workshop organizers and participants have initiated efforts to implement some of the recommended conservation actions and intend to collaborate with additional experts from across the amphibian conservation community to achieve meaningful progress for amphibian conservation.

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