GUWAHATI, April 27 - While the North East�s famed wildlife gets a lot of focus in view of multiple threats to its existence, the perils that plague lesser groups like diverse species of amphibians which are critical to the maintenance of a sustainable ecosystem, continue to be ignored.
Of some 120 species of amphibians (frogs, caecilians and salamanders) recorded in the North East, Assam boasts of a fair share of amphibian diversity accounting for 53 species. A wide variety of amphibians are found in the region due to its geographic location, vegetation and specific climate.
Even as �Save The Frogs Day� � that seeks to raise concern on the plight of frogs � will be observed tomorrow, conservationists have warned that unless organised study and conservation action are taken to conserve these marvels of Nature, the balance of ecosystem will undergo irreversible damage.
�Amphibians are very good indicators for the well-being of an ecosystem. Since amphibians need both land and water to complete their life cycle, pollution to either directly affects them. Since many amphibians are associated with agricultural land and paddy fields, use of pesticides and fertilisers is causing large-scale deaths of frogs as well as the eggs they lay in the water near the fields,� herpetologist Jayaditya Purkayastha told The Assam Tribune.
Many frogs are slow movers, and on most occasions they get killed while crossing roads. Shrinkage of agricultural land, too, is eroding amphibian habitat in the urban landscapes.
�Global climatic change with shifts in weather pattern is also taking a toll on frogs. Early or late arrival of monsoon affects the breeding and eggs of the frog, as both of these are directly dependent on rain and water. Again, in the urban context, since we have filled almost all the water bodies, and tarred up the road, frogs have no place to lay eggs and are fast vanishing,� he added.
Not many will know that frogs provide wide-ranging ecosystem services. They eat up the insects that destroy paddy fields. They also eat up the larvae of mosquitoes, and thus in absence of frogs, mosquito-borne dengue and malaria are on the rise.
�Frogs are an integral part of this ecosystem, and in absence or alteration in their diversity and population, the ecosystem as a whole shall collapse. Since we human beings are incapable of generating species, at least we can take care of those which share this earth with us. Extinction is a natural phenomenon, but we are hastening its speed by 1,000 times,� Purkayastha said.
Incidentally, Guwahati city is home to more than 20 species of frogs but their numbers are fast diminishing. �Loss and alteration of habitat, pollution, etc., is fast reducing their numbers. We hardly hear them croak now,� he said.
The objective of �Save The Frogs Day� is to raise awareness about the dangers the lovely amphibian faces and to educate the people about the consequences of living in a world without these wonderful frogs. It�s not just about conserving a frog , it�s more about conserving the human race on earth, which shall cease to exist, if the balance in Nature is not maintained.