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Frog leap to save species

- Nationwide walks on July 13

Jorhat, July 4: The warty skinned, bulging-eyed frog might not be reason enough for everyone to go out and take a walk in the wilds but frog walks are what is being organised by an NGO in the state in an effort to conserve the amphibian group.

The Assam chapter of Dr Caesar Photography (DCP), a leading wildlife photography training academy, is organising the walk in 11 venues of the state on July 13. Assam has the largest number of critically endangered species of amphibians — 18 out of 55 — in the country.

A frog walk will also be organised at Mumbai’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park the same day as part of a special programme. It will be led by top amphibian researcher Sathyabhama Das Biju, a professor in the department of environmental biology (Systematics Lab University of Delhi) and the co-ordinator of Lost Amphibians of India programme, which is searching for 50 species in India not seen for the past 30 to 170 years.

Organised by environmental magazine Sanctuary Asia and Dr Caesar Photography in association with Lost Amphibians of India, the walk will be held at 15 locations in the country.

Diganta Gogoi, state co-ordinator of team DCP Assam, said the walks would be led by naturalists, wildlife enthusiasts and wildlife photographers, who would take the walkers around and initiate them on different species of amphibians which can be spotted. They would also guide the group in photographing them.

The details of the walks in different places have been put up on Facebook.

The campaign aims at spreading awareness about the importance of conserving lesser species such as frogs and toads, which are mostly ignored by people as not worth a conservation effort.

In Assam, the walks will be organised at Bongaigaon, Silchar, Basistha in Guwahati, Morigaon, Bokakhat, Nambor wildlife sanctuary in Golaghat district near Garampani, Gibbon wildlife sanctuary in Jorhat, Sivasagar, Jokai in Dibrugarh district and Maguri Beel and Digboi in Tinsukia district.

Gogoi said the Mumbai walk would conclude with distribution of awards for entries in the nationwide amphibian photography contest, conceptualised by Lost Amphibians of India.

A Jorhat-based skilled wildlife photographer who excels in macro photography, Gogoi will lead the walk at Gibbon wildlife sanctuary. He said Dr Caesar Photography had sent several material to them, one being an interview given by Dr Biju to Bittu Sahgal, editor of Sanctuary Asia.

In the interview, Dr Biju tells Sahgal, “Amphibians are the most threatened group of vertebrates in the world. Almost half are on the decline for one reason or another. Amphibians as a group have the highest number of critically endangered species — 18 out of 55 — in India.”

“The population of frogs is decreasing fast and 200 species worldwide are said to have become extinct since 1980 because of pollution, infectious diseases, loss of habitat, invasive species, climate change, and consumption,” Gogoi said.

Highlighting the importance of frogs and toads in our eco-system, Gogoi said frogs eat insects, including mosquitoes, keeping their population in check, they are used in medicinal industry, as food for birds, fishes and some other animals, and tadpoles keep water clean by feeding on algae.

Frogs are also bio-indicators, showing how pollution-free an environment is, as their semi-permeable skin absorbs chemicals from the air into their system. If frogs die, it indicates that the environment of the place is heavily polluted.