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Fatal fungus threatens frog survival

Endangered Animal Species

Feb 17, 2007
Conservationists estimate 170 frog species have become extinct in the past two decades, and fear another 1900 are on the way out. Many have been killed off by the deadly chytrid fungus, which is thought to have spread from Africa to every continent except Antarctica. Faced with the advance of the deadly disease, as well as habitat loss, global warming and pollution, frogs and other amphibians are in serious decline. "It's been responsible for huge population crashes and it's still spreading. Very few species are resistant to it, and it's becoming more and more widespread." Recently the fungus has been recorded in frogs in Japan, where it was identified last month, and in Sardinia. In Central and South America it has wreaked devastation, with an estimated two thirds of some species wiped out. Amphibians form an important element of the world's ecological biomass, especially in tropical zones, where they are so numerous they play an important role in controlling insects and bugs that can cause diseases in people. Scientists have called for every zoo, aquarium and botanical garden in the world to rescue at least one species of frog. They urged each institution to provide a home for 500 or more frogs to build up a disease-free population. The captive frogs will provide a population reservoir that can be reintroduced to the wild once their natural habitat is safe from the disease.

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