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Who cares about frogs?

 

                                                                                                                   The Hindu, New Delhi, 9th February, 2015

 

PANKAJA SRINIVASAN

 There is a very real danger of entire species of amphibians being wiped out by a newly reported disease in the Western Ghats

 

“Frogs are ecological indicators. If frogs are dying then it means there is a problem,” says 24-year-old Keerthi Krutha who is a researcher at WILD (Wildlife Information Liaison Development) Society. Keerthi was Sanctuary Asia Tiger Ambassador in 2004 when she was a school student. She later volunteered with Crocodile Bank, rescued snakes in Coimbatore and finally did a BTech in TNAU in Bio Technology and is currently studying frogs.

 

More specifically, she is doing field work and collecting data on Chytridiomycosis. “It is a disease that has resulted in the extinction of nearly 200 species of frogs globally. And threatens 40 per cent amphibian species in the world,” says Keerthi. In India, the Western Ghats alone has 217 species of frogs. While there has not yet been a mass death reported here due to this disease, seven species are currently known to harbour the fungus that infects the skin of the frogs and leads to its death within two weeks. As per the amphibian assessment conducted by the IUCN in 2004, 60 species in India are presently known to be threatened with extinction (13 are Critically Endangered, 27 are Endangered and 20 are Vulnerable).

 

“So this study and research is even more significant. The incidence of this disease was recorded for the first time in 2011,” says Keerthi. She has been involved in this project since 2012.

 

Frogs face major threats thanks to habitat destruction and decrease of quality of habitat, says Keerthi. Pollution, deforestation, depletion of water bodies, etc. make them vulnerable. The study requires help from inhabitants in and around areas where frogs are found. Keerthi appeals to them to report any mass death of frogs to the nearest forest department or write to zooreach@zooreach.org / keerthi@zooreach.org / herpinvert@gmail.com

 

Frog bytes

 

- In India there are 60 threatened species (as per the IUCN Redlist) that are in critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable categories.

 

- Chytridiomycosis is an emerging infectious disease of the amphibians caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis a water borne zoospore producing fungi

 

- Nearly 200 species of amphibians across the globe have been wiped out due to this disease

 

- While mass extinction has not yet been recorded in India, the fungus has been detected in seven species across seven sites in the Western Ghats.

 

http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/who-cares-about-frogs/article6874717.ece