Search on for ‘lost amphibians’ before they go extinct

August 9th, 2010 - 4:58 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 9 (IANS) A search has been launched to find 100 ‘lost’ frogs, toads and lizards that have not been seen for up to a century.
Endangered species of the rainforests like the golden toad, the black and yellow climbing salamander or the scarlet frog may be colourful but none have been spotted by humans for more than a decade.

Other “missing amphibians” include the Turkestanian salamander that was last seen in 1909, reports the Telegraph.

Conservation International fear such elusive creatures are in danger of going extinct and are trying to track down 100 species that are “hanging on” before they are lost forever.

The ambitious project will require trekking through inhospitable jungles in Borneo to find the Sambas Stream Toad, which has not been seen since intensive logging started in the area 50 years ago.

Others like the African painted frog have never been photographed before, while the hula painted frog has not been since its marshland home in Syria was drained to prevent malaria.

Some species may prove important to medicine as amphibian skins can be used in the creation of life-saving drugs.

Many are unique to science, like the Australian gastric brooding frog that gives birth through the mouth or the Mesopotamia Beaked Toad of Colombia with its strange pyramid-shaped head.

As one of the most sensitive animal groups affected by climate change, all the species will cast light on the effects of global warming.

More than a third of all amphibian species are in danger of going extinct because of deforestation, climate change and disease. At the moment many species of frog are dying out from a killer fungus known as chytridiomycosis.

Robin Moore of Conservation International, who is heading the search for the ‘lost amphibians,’ said: “Amphibians are particularly sensitive to changes in the environment, so they are often an indicator of damage that is being done to ecosystems.”

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