Save the Frogs point out that amphibians play an important role in ecosystems, for example by cleaning waterways (as tadpoles) and eating pest species like mosquitoes that spread disease. It might help us to care more about amphibians to know that approximately 10% of Nobel prizes in physiology and medicine have resulted from investigations that used amphibians. These animals are often spoken of as important bio-indicators: their moist skins make them sensitive to environmental change and (according to Save the Frogs again) ‘their disappearance signifies the Earth’s environment is out of balance and portends potential negative consequences for humans’.
In my post about forests I questioned the rhetoric of ‘saving’ forests since they can’t actually be ‘saved’ – we can only avoid cutting them down. The same applies to ‘saving’ frogs. It is a clear slogan, sounds quite funny and is emotive at the same time. Perhaps what we’re really talking about is stopping killing frogs but this does sound rather negative and aggressive. If the campaign said ‘stop killing frogs’ this would puzzle many who would (reasonably?) feel that they don’t kill frogs. At least ‘save’ suggests that frogs are something we should cherish. Still, I’m uncomfortable with it and would be interested to hear other views on this question. Religious language is often used within the conservation movement – is that something we should embrace as powerful or reject as misleading?
Back to the campaign for now: what is killing frogs and how can we ‘save’ them? Amphibians are affected by pollution, pesticides, habitat destruction, climate change, invasive species, infectious diseases, and over-harvesting for the pet, food and bait trades’. Habitat destruction is key, as is the spread of the chytrid fungus (often spread by human activity, especially along roads and other trade routes). Climate change appears to be strengthening the virulence of this disease. Here is the campaign’s list of what we should do:
- support campaigns to stop deforestation
- spread the word about Save the Frogs day