Of course, Frogs & Friends did not get spared by the pandemic. We had to postpone our planned excursions to Cameroon and Guinea for an indefinite time, and our planned public launch of Citizen Conservation got hit hardly.

In light of the International Day for Biological Diversity on May 22, 2020, Citizen Conservation was supposed to be presented to the general public in various zoos in Germany, Austria and Switzerland to call attention to the biodiversity crisis. This did not happen. But even if the pandemic is currently overshadowing all other issues, the massive extinction of species is not on lockdown. For that reason we decided to try out alternative measures and platforms to remind humanity of the challenge we’re facing.

So we came up with two online formats. For one, colleagues from zoos along with private keepers sent us their lockdown video footage for our series „Du und Deine Art @ home” (“You and Your Species @ Home”); the other, our weekly “KreaturenPodcast” (“CreaturePodcast”), where prominent persons read our texts about threatened species, is an attempt to reach people who are less acquainted with animal keeping. It was notable, when famous german singer-songwriter Reinhard Mey consented in participating, reading a text about the Darwin’s frog. He wrote to us, that he is generally critical about zoos, but when they engage in conservation, he’d gladly be in for it. This illustrates how much there is to be cleared up, and how much projects like CC can contribute to stimulating public discourse. Which is, especially when you look at the retrieved demands for general import bans on wildlife in course of the current pandemic, very much needed. Danger is at hand, that laws will be passed in a hurry, that are likely to impede meaningful conservational efforts. In terms of communication we ought to consequently cultivate and defend a science-based discourse that resists the temptation to propagate easy-to-communicate solutions.

You can find the entire series on the Citizen Conservation YouTube channel – a joint conservation breeding project by Frogs & Friends, the Association of Zoos (VdZ), and the German Society for Herpetology and Herpetoculture (DGHT). For the moment these series are only available in German language. We’ll be working on additional multi-language CC-formats in the near future.

By Björn Encke, Frogs & Friends