For frogs’ sake! Endangered amphibian released in KwaZulu-Natal
A rare green-brown frog has been released into the marshlands of KwaZulu-Natal as environmental authorities hope the little amphibians can make a comeback.
The Pickersgill’s reed frog‚ the environmental affairs department said on Monday‚ was found in coastal wetland habitats of KwaZulu-Natal‚ but that its natural areas were mostly commercially-owned land.
The frog is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Data List and by South Africa’s Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) Regulations as endangered. The species is KZN’s only amphibian species with this status.
“Without concerted pro-active conservation intervention it is highly likely that the species will become extinct‚” the department’s Albi Modise said.
But now the department – along with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the Johannesburg Zoo – are hoping the species can make a comeback. On Monday they released 200 captive-bred engangered Pickersgill’s reed frogs at the Mount Moreland and Prospecton areas in the northern and southern areas of Durban‚ respectively.
The release coincided with the one-year anniversary of the publication of the Biodiversity Management Plan for the frog species.
Modise said the release of the frogs was ecologically vital.
“Amphibians play integral roles in most ecosystems and are presently the most threatened class of vertebrates globally‚ with approximately one third of all known species Red Listed by the IUCN. This situation is reflected in South Africa‚ with 30% of the country’s frog species listed under a threatened category.
“Overall‚ 43% of South African frog species are endemic to the country. Of these‚ 35% are in a threatened category‚ and all but one of the threatened species are endemic‚” he said.
The Pickersgill’s reed frog had lost much of its natural habitat as a result of wetland drainage or destruction for agricultural‚ urban and industrial development. Other factors included severe habitat fragmentation‚ alien vegetation and afforestation - which had resulted in drying out of breeding sites - and pollution from pesticides and other contaminants.
The Johannesburg Zoo was involved as it had undertaken a breeding programme so that endangered amphibians could be introduced or re-introduced into their natural environment when the need arose.
The zoo was able to collect 20 specimens from two sites. Those 20 spawned the 200 released on Monday.