A day to celebrate (and save) the world's amphibians: the 2nd Annual Save the Frogs Day

Jeremy Hance
April 28, 2010

Friday, April 30th is for the frogs: educational programs, conservation walks with experts, frog leaping races, and the world's first protest to save frogs are all planned for the world's 2nd Annual Save the Frogs Day. Organized by the non-profit SAVE THE FROGS!, events are so far planned in 15 countries on every continent besides Antarctica—fittingly the only continent that lacks amphibians.

"[This] will be the largest day of amphibian education and conservation action in the planet's history," says Kerry Kriger, Executive Director and founder of SAVE THE FROGS!.

Building off of last year's success, Kriger says this year promises a lot of new events to raise awareness about the plight of amphibians worldwide. Currently a third of the world's amphibians are threatened with extinction due to a variety of factors, including habitat loss, pollution, herbicides and pesticides, climate change, and a devastating fungal disease, chytridiomycosis, which has played a large role in declining frog populations worldwide and in several cases extinction.

The Panamanian golden frog (pictured here with green infant) is one of a number of frog species to have gone extinct. Fortunately for this species, a population does survive in a number of zoos, but other frog species have not been so lucky. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Over 120 species have likely vanished in the past thirty years alone.

World's first protests for frogs

One of the biggest events for Save the Frogs Day are peaceful protests against Uncle Julio's Rio Grande restaurants in Virginia, Texas, and Maryland for its participation in the frog-legs trade.

According to SAVE THE FROGS!, the frog-legs trade removes an estimated 100 million frogs every year from the wild, raises the chances of spreading invasive species, and helps spread the highly-contagious chytridiomycosis, which is decimating frog populations globally.

"I think the frog legs protests are really cool," Kriger told mongabay.com. "They demonstrate that the SAVE THE FROGS! movement has grown and that our supporters are prepared to take action. We aren’t going to wait around for new government regulations or for businesses to voluntary police themselves,"

The organization has already had success in working with restaurants to end the frog-legs trade. They will officially announce on Friday that due to awareness-raising from SAVE THE FROGS, San Francisco's Restaurant Gary Danko will no longer be serving wild-caught Florida Pig Frogs (Rana grylio).

The blue arrow poison frog. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
"They recently agreed to remove the frog legs from their menu and not to re-order them. Restaurant Gary Danko is the first restaurant in the world to remove frog legs from its menus for environmental reasons, and we expect many restaurants to follow in their footsteps," says Kriger.

The day will also be the start of a new campaign for SAVE THE FROGS! and environmental partners to ban the herbicide Atrazine.

Long seen as detrimental to amphibians and other wildlife, a recent study showed that Atrazine changed male frogs into females through chemical castration, which the researchers said likely plays a big, but unseen, role in the current amphibian crisis. There are even concerns about the herbicide impacting human health. While, the EU banned Atrazine in 2004, the herbicide is still widely-used in the US and across the world.

Celebrations and education: frog-style

Save the Frogs Day is also about celebrating the world's amphibians. In that light, organizers in Toronto have set up the First Annual Frog-Leap-a-Thon.

"This fundraiser event will be the largest gathering of Frog Leapers in recorded history, and is certain to catch the attention of many of Toronto's inhabitants," explains Kriger.

In several cities around the US people will have a chance to take walks with researchers to learn about frogs and hopefully run into some of the tiny creatures themselves.

"Getting people outside is one of the best ways to get them to care for and protect the environment," says Kriger.

The white spotted reed frog from Madagascar. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Across the pond, so to speak, Ireland is hosting its first Save the Frog event at the Lough Boora parklands in county Offaly; the event will include a lecture and a hike.

SAVE THE FROGS! has also partnered with a number of organizations to spread the word and set up special events.

"Ranger Rick and the National Wildlife Federation are helping promote Save The Frogs Day," says Kriger, "the Miss Earth South Africa ladies will be teaching South Africa’s kids about frogs; and we have large museums getting involved as well: the Chicago Academy of Science's Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the World Museum in Liverpool."

Kriger, himself, has a busy schedule set for Friday.

"I will be giving a Save The Frogs Day webinar that is open to anyone in the world who wants to log on and listen. This will be the first of many SAVE THE FROGS! Webinars on a variety of topics," Kriger says. "I’m used to talking to a room full of people. Now I can talk to people around the world. For the environmental movement to be successful, we have to use communications technologies to our advantage, so I am always excited when SAVE THE FROGS! finds a new platform on which to communicate with people." Free and open to the public the webinar will take place at 2:30 PST.

It's not just frogs that are declining worldwide. Other amphibians, like salamanders and newts, are also in danger. This is a rough skinned newt from California. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Kriger will also be joining Mike Rotkin, the mayor of Santa Cruz, in visiting elementary students to talk about frogs. He will speak on the "Making a Living with Maggie" show on Martha Stewart Living Radio, which will air nationwide on Sirius 112/XM 157 at 1:30 PST. In the evening, Kriger will speak at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve in Watsonville, CA; this event will also include a sunset hike to find frogs.

Though Save the Frogs Day is only a couple days away, Kriger says there is always room for people to start new events: "Save The Frogs Day 2010 is a de-centralized event: that means it's up to you to make something happen in your part of the universe. The frogs are depending on you. Your children and their children are depending on you."

When asked why frogs matter, Kriger says: "I could tell you that frogs are bioindicators; that they eat ticks, mosquitoes and flies that spread diseases and damage our crops; that a large number of our pharmaceuticals are derived from frogs; that frogs provide innumerable ecosystem services to humans. All that is true, but those are all selfish reasons."

The real reason?

"Frogs are an integral part of our existence on the planet, and they have as much right to inhabit the Earth as we do," Kriger concludes.

For a list of events on Save the Frogs Day: http://www.savethefrogs.com/day/index.html

Information for teachers: http://www.savethefrogs.com/teachers/index.html

Information for students: http://www.savethefrogs.com/students/index.html

How to help frogs: http://www.savethefrogs.com/how-to-help/index.html

2nd Annual Save the Frogs Day image.

Save the Frogs Day banner for the Dallas Airport.

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Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (April 28, 2010).

A day to celebrate (and save) the world's amphibians: the 2nd Annual Save the Frogs Day.