Nivedita Ganguly

The ANSA has declared 2008 as the Year of the Frog

More than 120 species of amphibians are suspected to be extinct

Zoo officials will conduct awareness programmes at regular intervals

VISAKHAPATNAM: They are called the best friends of farmers. Their croak in the night time is considered to be a natural indicator of rains. But, habitat loss, pollution, global warming and environmental contamination are driving the cold-blooded frogs, toads, salamanders, caecilian and other amphibian species towards possible extinction.

To spread awareness among the public about the looming extinction of the amphibian population, zoo professionals from around the world are coming together to educate the people on how to protect the amphibian species and the waterways that belong to our local neighbourhoods, our homelands and the world.

According to studies, more than one third of species are believed to be threatened with extinction and more than 120 species are suspected to be extinct. Among these species are the golden toad of Costa Rica and the Gastric-brooding frogs of Australia. The Amphibian Network of South Asia (ANSA) has declared 2008 as the Year of the Frog to promote a worldwide education campaign.

Awareness programme

As part of the World Environment Day celebrations, Indira Gandhi Zoological Park conducted an awareness programme for school children on Friday. “Loss of habitat due to human interference and changing weather patterns are some of chief culprits responsible for this crisis. Through such programmes, we want to bring to light the problems of the animal kingdom,” curator of zoo park Rahul Pandey told The Hindu.

Environmentalists fear that if afforestation continues at such rapid pace, very soon the friends of nature would be wiped out. Emerging infectious diseases like chytridiomycosis are also one of the reasons for the decline in the frog population.

According to the plans, zoo officials will conduct such awareness programmes at regular intervals. The zoo usually organises such programmes only during select occasions such as the Wildlife Week. Now, this programme will be institutionalised and expanded. There are also plans to rope in the services of NGOs and other organisations to conduct such programmes.

The zoo authorities will also distribute educational material to the students who will participate in the programmes.