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Experts develop global action plan to save amphibians facing extinction

WASHINGTON, DC (Sept. 20, 2005) A summit of leading scientists have agreed to an action plan intended to save hundreds of frogs, salamanders and other amphibians facing extinction from familiar threats such as pollution and habitat destruction, as well as a little-known fungus wiping out their populations.

The Amphibian Conservation Summit held Sept. 17-19 concluded with proposals for a series of actions, including emergency responses to save species under the greatest threat. More than 60 specialists convened by the Species Survival Commission of IUCN-The World Conservation Union drafted the seven-page Amphibian Conservation Action Plan declaration.

It responds to findings in last year's Global Amphibian Assessment (GAA) that almost a third of the world's amphibians are in serious trouble, with dramatic declines since the 1980s signaling one of the worst extinction crises of our time.

"We still have time to save these threatened species if appropriate conservation action is taken now," said Claude Gascon, chairman of the IUCN Global Amphibian Specialist Group and senior vice-president of Conservation International (CI). "This is kind of a Noah's Ark situation for amphibians, particularly because of the fungus. It is so deadly where it occurs, there really is no hope of saving a lot of these species if we leave them in the wild."

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 1,856 of the 5,743 known amphibian species almost one in three are threatened with extinction. By comparison, one in eight birds face a similar level of threat, and one in four mammals.

The reasons are varied and all relate to the impact of humans on Earth habitat loss, pollution, over-harvesting of species, and climate change. They often act in combination to exacerbate the declines.

In addition, a new and serious threat is a chytrid fungal disease Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis that kills amphibians by attacking their sensitive skins
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Contact: Paula Alvarado
palvarado@conservation.org
202-912-1214
Conservation International
20-Sep-2005


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