IT MAY not be immediately clear but frogs play a vital role in our ecosystem as predator and prey.
As tadpoles, they are food for larger animals and filter feeders that consume bacteria and algae in a particular aquatic system. As frogs, they consume agricultural pests and mosquitoes, some of which carry deadly diseases.
Many countries that report a declining frog population are also reporting a corresponding increase in use of pesticides. This is disturbing because excessive use of pesticides is known to be harmful to people and the environment.
It is about time these creatures are given due attention. Amphibians – animals that live partly on land and in water – are the most threatened animal group. One-third of all amphibian species are now listed as threatened.
Besides the threats posed by environmental and climate changes, the global demand for frog meat is endangering the survival of the species.
At first glance, farming may seem to be the solution to a rapidly declining frog population. After all, it makes sense – more frogs from farms means less pressure on those in the wild, right?
Not true, says a 2009 paper published in Frontiers In Ecology And The Environment. Biologist Brian Gratwicke and his colleagues stress that farming is not an ecologically responsible option.
Firstly, farmed frogs have the potential to spread deadly diseases such as the chytridiomycosis fungus – the cause of numerous population die-offs – rana viruses and Salmonella bacteria to other farmed stocks and wild populations.
The farming of non-native frogs can also cause serious problems if those species are released or escape and become invasive. The popular American bullfrog, for example, is on the list of “100 of the world’s worst invasive alien species”.