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Prehistoric frogs face extinction | tops ZSL London Zoo EDGE of Existence amphibian list
The world’s most ancient frogs may soon be mined to extinction, if the New Zealand government’s plans to open up a conservation area for mining go ahead.
By: ZSl London Zoo
Archey’s frog is currently ranked top of the Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) EDGE of Existence amphibian list, making it the most evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered amphibian on the planet. Described as a “living fossil”, Archey’s frog is almost indistinguishable from the fossilised remains of frogs that walked amongst the dinosaurs 150 million years ago.
“In the year when reducing biodiversity loss is high on the political agenda, it is inconceivable to think that we’d put the nail in the coffin of some of our rarest and most extraordinary frog species,” say Helen Meredith, EDGE of Existence amphibian conservation projects coordinator at ZSL.
She adds: “We will be faced with these kinds of decisions again and again in the future. Now is the time to start recognising the long-term value of our natural world over any short-term economic gains.”
The frog populations have been intensively monitored for over 40yrs, representing the best data set on frog populations in the world. The proposed mining will cut through the heart of these monitoring sites.
Dr Phil Bishop, leader of the University of Otago’s frog research says “Only four species of frog survive in New Zealand, and this proposed mining activity could cause the extinction of one of New Zealand’s native amphibians, and a severe decline in another - a devastating blow to global amphibian conservation.”
7,000 hectares of land in the West Coast’s Paparoa National Park, Great Barrier Island and the Coromandel Peninsula has been proposed to be considered for mining of coal, gold, iron ore and other rare minerals.
The North Island brown kiwi, long-tailed bats, striped geckos and Helm’s butterfly are some of the other rare and endangered species found in these protected areas.
The New Zealand government is now holding a public consultation on whether the conservation status of the area should be downgraded to allow mining to take place. The closing date for submissions is Thursday, 26 May: www.med.govt.nz/
ZSL conservationists are now calling for UK residents to support the protection of New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna by submitting to the public consultation process.
• Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. The Society runs ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, carries out scientific research at the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation overseas. For further information please visit www.zsl.org
• ZSL’s EDGE of Existence programme ranks species according to their evolutionary distinctiveness and how globally endangered they are. There is currently an EDGE amphibians and EDGE mammals list. EGDE supports in-country conservationists through the EDGE Fellowship scheme. For further information please visit: http://www.edgeofexistence.org/
• For further information on New Zealand frog conservation, visit: http://www.nzfrogs.org/
• You are an integral part of nature; your fate is tightly linked with biodiversity, the huge variety of other animals and plants, the places they live and their surrounding environments, all over the world. You rely on this diversity of life to provide you with the food, fuel, medicine and other essentials you simply cannot live without. Yet this rich diversity is being lost at a greatly accelerated rate because of human activities. This impoverishes us all and weakens the ability of the living systems, on which we depend, to resist growing threats such as climate change. 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity, and people all over the world are working to safeguard this irreplaceable natural wealth and reduce biodiversity loss. This is vital for current and future human wellbeing. We need to do more. Now is the time to act.
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Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. For further information please visit http://www.zsl.org