Pucker Up For Save The Frog Day

frog

Frogs can be found all over the world, with the first ancestor of the modern frog being dated back to the Triassic period. Not a fan of mosquitoes? You should totally be a fan of the frog; they eat tons of them every year!

Frogs are often mistaken for toads, the difference being that toads are capable of living on dry land for long periods of time. Frogs require very moist environments because their skin is semi-porous, allowing water and gasses to pass through it with ease! Any lover of frogs knows that they also have amazing calls, the singing of frogs being one of the first signs of spring in some areas.

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Unfortunately, frogs are endangered, the number of frogs in the world has been dropping rapidly since the 1950’s, and it’s believed that over a hundred species of frogs have vanished from the world just since the 80’s!  April 28, Save The Frogs Day, works to raise awareness about the dangers they face, and the repercussions of living in a world without frogs.

We all know that the rhino is in a very vulnerable position – the western black rhino is already declared extinct and elephants are also constantly being hunted for their ivory, but there are many less obvious animals that are currently endangered in South Africa. One of those less obvious animals is the Pickergill’s Reed Frog.

It’s easy to overlook an animal that is only 3cm long, but once you know of its existence. The Pickersgill’s Reed Frog is one of the most endangered amphibians in South Africa. It’s endemic to the coastline of KwaZulu-Natal only, where their numbers are shockingly low and vastly spread out along the coast. These frogs are the needle in a haystack. Small, quiet, secretive and fast, they are often difficult to spot among the dense jungle of reed beds deep within the wetland landscapes of KwaZulu-Natal.

These frogs are described as habitat specialists that require specific wetlands made up by dense reed beds. Populations are known to occur only within 16 km of the coast. Their breeding habitats are composed of very specific dense vegetation encompassing short reeds like snakeroot or indigenous ferns, from which males call.  The species is known to move considerable distances from its breeding habitat during winter therefore the small and dwindling habitat needs to be protected.

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Frogs are regarded as good ecological indicators because they ‘drink’ through their skin. They’re susceptible to man-made changes in the environment. Due to the high degree of sensitivity of habitat requirements by the Pickersgill’s reed frog, they will respond to very slight changes in the environment. Their responses have and can be used to indicate poor habitat quality, habitat fragmentation, ecosystem stress and pollution that would affect other species as well.

Two of the wetland areas where they live are currently protected. South Africa’s very first captive breeding project for the conservation of  threatened amphibian species includes the Pickersgill’s Reed frog. The project is run by the African Association of Zoos and Aquaria. The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has also named the Pickersgill’s reed frog its flagship species for its amphibian conservation programme.

How you can help

  • Become a member of the African Association of Zoos and Aquaria.
  • Join the EWT and either donate money (however small the amount) to the programme or get a MyPlanet card and name the Threatened Amphibian Programme as your beneficiary. It won’t cost you a thing!
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