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Amphibian Ark launched from Budapest

From the land-locked country of Hungary will an ark be released this week and will hopefully see much success in 2008, The Year of the Frog.

Scientists are convening in Budapest this week to launch Amphibian Ark, a project that may well represent a last-ditch effort to preserve some 500 species of frogs from around the world. The Ark is a program put together under the auspices of The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group and the Amphibian Specialist Group which seeks to isolate the disparate species in bio-secure facilities.

Some 170 species of frog have become extinct worldwide in the past twenty-five years or so, and conservative estimates say that fully one-third of all remaining species – nearly 2,000 – could be gone in fifty years.

Aside from the effects of global warming, frog stocks worldwide have recently been critically thinned out by a fungus known as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. The fungus is quick and lethal to all amphibian forms of life and has been detected on all the continents. Panama was a particularly nasty breeding ground for the fungus, as some 90 percent of the frog population succumbed to the illness.

Though extinction of species is always important, endangerment of frogs and other amphibians is particularly sobering. Since amphibians by nature are land and water creatures, death to such species typically indicates thorough unsustainable damage to the local environment.

Amphibian Ark has designated 2008 “The Year of the Frog” in an attempt to drum up publicity (and donations) for the project and related initiatives.