Dwindling frog populations in cities are a wake-up call to save their habitat
April 30 is celebrated as Save the Frog Day to create awareness about the declining frog populations in cities. Why should we city dwellers bother one might ask. Frogs are crucial to human well-being and also for the eco-system as they feed on insects.
Gururaja K.V. who is a research scientist in CiSTUP, IISc, says: “The killing and export of frog legs is banned in India. According to the book “The Fauna of Bangalore” by S. Karthikeyan, there are 16 species of frogs in Bangalore. I am trying to initiate a frog census enlisting the help of school and college students. They will be trained to spot frogs and their species to build the database.
Of course without a doubt, the urban sprawl of Bangalore and the change in land use in the city has brought about a decline in frog numbers. Tadpoles and frogs are voracious eaters and feed on insects and mosquito larva. Without them the proliferation of mosquitoes will increase and along with that vector borne diseases they carry.”
“Bangalore is famous for its large rock boulders,” says Vijaykumar S.P., who is doing thesis on the tree frog species of the Western Ghats.
“The Mysore Plateau region toad species is restricted to these rocky outcrops.
“They live in the crevices in the summer and breed in the puddles of water among the rocks. By mining their habitat to make our granite pavements and build huge apartment blocks, we are losing them .
“We also have a completely vegetarian species which lives in the ponds . With the drying up of the ponds we will lose this particular species too ,” he adds.
When was the last time you heard a frog symphony in Bangalore? “Earlier, Bangalore had large garden spaces and come monsoons, one could hear the deep bass sounds of bull frogs.
Two of the micrahyla genus called the Ornata and the Rubra would set off louder and shriller sounds.
Only the males call out and the female chooses the male with the loudest call. With the loss of individual houses, the lakes and ponds and the paved streets there is a lack of moisture for the frog to thrive. Therefore, there is a homogenisation of the species where only a few of the hardier species adapt and survive. Some go extinct. ” explains Gururaja.
Since frogs are nocturnal, many frogs die due to road kills because of the increase in traffic.
“If the government restricts vehicular traffic in the night, in areas where large numbers of frogs are found, it could help.
“Frogs are a crucial part of the ecosystem and a vital link as predator and prey in the food chain. If frogs go extinct, the ripple effect on the ecosystem will be felt by us all,” concludes Vijaykumar.