Sir David leads ZSL’s crisis summit for amphibians
Thursday 20 November 2008
As the global amphibian crisis deepens, scientists from around the world have gathered at ZSL to try to hammer out a solution.
Conservation heavyweight Sir David Attenborough will preside over the international two-day Halting Global Decline in Amphibians symposium, as scientists and conservationists compare their research in the hope of finding a way forward.
Sir David’s keynote address, A world without amphibians, will give an overview of the scale of the catastrophe which, if unabated, is thought to present the potentially greatest extinction crisis since the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.
Around 50 per cent of European amphibians are believed to be at risk of extinction by 2050, and the future for amphibians around the world looks just as bleak.
2008 has been the Amphibian Ark Year of the Frog which, supported by the world’s zoos, has sought to raise the profile of the amphibian plight.
Amphibians are considered by many conservationists to be the 'canaries in the coalmine', giving a stark warning about the health of the world as a whole. The last Global Amphibian Assessment concluded that amphibians are at far greater risk of extinction than mammals or birds with almost a third facing of the entire world’s amphibians facing extinction.
Symposium speaker Dr Jon Bielby, a wildlife epidemiologist at ZSL, warns: 'The amphibian crisis is a very real, very serious situation. If we want to prevent the loss of a massive proportion of this amazing group of animals we must act quickly and effectively.
'Resolving the complex reasons - including disease, habitat loss and climate change - behind this crisis will require collaboration between scientists, conservationists and policy-makers. It is essential to get these groups together today to discuss ways we can avoid the loss of these fantastic, unique animals'.
Researchers and conservationists working both in the field and with captive amphibians will examine plans for potential solutions to the crisis during the influential symposium. Speakers will assess the current understanding of amphibian declines worldwide and share methods being used in the wild and in captivity to combat losses.
Symposium chair Lesley Dickie, Executive Director of European Association of Zoos Aquaria (EAZA), urged: 'As the 2008 Amphibian Ark Year of the Frog Campaign draws to a close, it is imperative that work to protect the future of amphibians does not drop off the global agenda.'