I remember recreational outings as a kid, when we'd go to ponds and streams, camping areas and picnic sites with friends and family. We kids would play in the streams and catch frogs and tadpoles for fun and releasing them at the end of the day. I remember how fascinated I was by these animals, how dramatically they physically changed during their life cycle and that all the transitional forms could be captured in the same stream. It was easy as their numbers were countless. Who knew that in our lifetime things would change so drastically?
Sadly, today the sound of croaking frogs is fast disappearing. Habitat loss, climate change, Increases in UV-B, environmental pollution, invasive predators (introduced by humans for sport fishing) and spread of diseases ... all these factors brought on by accelerating human activity are decimating amphibian populations that previously were able to thrive in healthy aquatic ecosystems and isolated niches. The situation is dire and I fear that many species will be lost before even being discovered. I am reminded of the movie Avatar where Sigourney Weaver's character (Dr. Grace Augustine) says: "The wealth of this world isn't in the ground - it's all around us."
So why are amphibians so important?
Amphibian skin is both permeable to water, and can perform gaseous exchange, so they are incredibly sensitive to any changes in their surroundings. They also spend parts of their life cycle in both aquatic and terrestrial environments and this makes them invaluable ecological indicators. So an abundance of amphibians therefore represents a healthy ecosystem. Conversely their rapid decline points to deteriorating environmental conditions and a host of associated problems. The Amphibian Crisis is a proverbial alarm going off and we need to wake up!
Symbolism: The frog in silhouette represents the idea of loss of the amphibians (only the shadow of a memory remains). The green represents the natural world, while the red represents the destructive impact of man.
So what can we do?
It is important to tighten restrictions and regulations surrounding air and water quality, and around the management of solid waste. By getting involved in the political process through activism we can ensure that policies that are already in place are not eroded by the corrupt few for their own short-term financial gains at the expense of the environment at large.
I will end on a quote by one of my favorite human beings ever to have graced the small screen:
“The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it.” ― David Attenborough