Why Amphibians?

In the closing of her Nobel acceptance speech, the late Wangari Maathai told a story: “I reflect on my childhood experience when I would visit a stream next to our home to fetch water for my mother. I would drink water straight from the stream. Playing among the arrowroot leaves I tried in vain to pick up the strands of frogs’ eggs, believing they were beads. But everytime I put my little fingers under them they would break. Later, I saw thousands of tadpoles: black, energetic and wriggling through the clear water against the background of the brown earth. This is the world I inherited from my parents.”

Today, over 50 years later, the stream has dried up, women walk long distances for water, which is not always clean, and children will never know what they have lost. The challenge is to restore the home of the tadpoles and give back to our children a world of beauty and wonder.

Frogs, salamanders and caecilians are woven through our cultural fabric the world over. They provide children with beauty and wonder and play an integral role in the functioning of ecosystems. Because of their sensitivity to change, amphibians are believed to be bellwethers of ecosystem health.

But the world over, amphibians are in trouble, as entire species are being driven to extinction by threats that include loss of habitat, disease, contamination and climate change.

The latest figures from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species™ show that there are nearly as many threatened species of amphibians as birds and mammals combined, and that the proportion of threatened species is higher for amphibians (30.2%) than for either birds (12.5%) or mammals (20.6%).

The Amphibian Survival Alliance is committed to converging a diverse network of global partners with one goal: to protect amphibians and their habitats.

We have a blueprint for action in the form of an Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP) and a track record of conservation successes on which to build. The preservation of core amphibian habitat will be coupled with strategies to mitigate the other threat.

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