Help save SA’s two endangered frog populations — don’t let them croak

2014-02-05 00:00

SAVING our endangered frogs is high on the agenda for one passionate environmentalist who believes this February — even though it’s not a leap year — is the perfect time to promote frog awareness.

Hillcrest’s Jeanne Tarrant from the Threatened Amphibian Programme (TAP) is promoting awareness of KZN’s own endangered frog species.

On February 28, she will be educating people on the reasons we should be saving frogs because they are very healthy indicators of the state of our environment.

Amphibians are currently the most threatened class of vertebrate on earth, according to the EWT website, with 32% of species being red listed as critically endangered.

In total, 43% of species globally are experiencing population declines. In South Africa two frog populations are critically endangered.

The Pickersgill Reed Frog occurs at only a few wetlands along the KwaZulu-Natal coast. Only two sites are officially protected and most of the remaining populations occur in habitat that is already compromised.

The other frog that is critically endangered is the Amatola Toad . It occurs in the grasslands of the Hogsback Mountains in the Eastern Cape, and is under severe threat from the forestry activity in the area.

In South Africa, 30% of our frogs are red-listed as critically endangered, with the Western Cape as the most seriously affected followed by KwaZulu-Natal.

Dr Jeanne Tarrant believes that we have many frog species and we should get to know them and protect them.

She is presenting a talk on February 28th at the Glenholme Nature Reserve.

After the talk the public is invited to go frog hunting to see if they can spot the frogs in their natural habitat.

Free hot chocolate, tea and coffee will be provided for the occasion.

Since the 1980s, 200 species of frogs have become extinct.

Tarrant said: “We need to identify where frog numbers are dwindling and create support networks to do monitoring and evaluation to stop the destruction of their habitat.

“Amphibians are crucial in the food-chain through their role as both predator and prey; they consume vast numbers of insects (including pests and disease vectors such as mosquitoes) and provide food to a wide range of animals.

“As tadpoles they have an important function in keeping waterways clean by feeding on algae.”

Tarrant has asked frog lovers and environmentalists to support the function on February 28 and to spread the word.

“We do not want them to croak!”

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