Threatened Amphibian Programme

Amphibians are currently the most Threatened Class of vertebrate on Earth, with 32% of species Red Listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable. In total, 43% of species globally are experiencing population declines. The EWT’s Threatened Amphibian Programme (TAP) aims to address a growing need in South Africa for the involvement of the Non-Governmental sector in frog conservation. The TAP implements specific conservation actions to address direct threats and protect critical amphibian habitat; supports relevant research projects focused on critical knowledge gaps in amphibian conservation; and raises awareness about the importance of amphibians in a South African context. The programme is managed by Dr. Jeanne Tarrant

Why should we care?
Although small and seldom seen, frogs are important in many ways:

  • Amphibians are crucial in the food-chain through their role as both predator and prey; they consume vast numbers of insects (including pests and disease vectors such as mosquitoes) and provide food to a wide range of animals.
  • As tadpoles they have an important function in keeping waterways clean by feeding on algae.
  • They are good bioindicators due to their biphasic life cycles and sensitive skins; the fact that one third of all species are threatened should be an important warning to humans that our global environment is in jeopardy.
  • Some species provide important human medicines from skin secretions.

The Threatened Amphibian Programme aims to:

  1. Implement specific conservation to tackle direct threats to South Africa’s most threatened frog species
  2. Bridge the gap between academic research and conservation action; and
  3. Raise public awareness about the importance and plight of frogs through education and public initiatives.

In addition to providing crucial ecosystem services, such as natural water filtration and flood attenuation, wetlands are important habitat to many frog species (and much other life as well). One of our focal species, the Pickersgill’s Reed Frog is a coastal wetland specialist. It is critically endangered because much of this habitat has been destroyed through agricultural, industrial and urban development. The TAP aims to protect, maintain and rehabilitate remaining habitat in order to secure a long-term viable population of Pickersgill’s Reed Frog.

How can you help?

  • Learn more! Get a frog field guide and become familiar with South African species and their calls.
  • Build a frog pond in your garden.
  • Use indigenous plants in your garden.
  • Avoid the use of harmful chemicals and pesticides in your home and garden.
  • Drive cautiously on wet nights to avoid squashing frogs as they move to and from breeding sites.
  • Donate funds to project on GIVEGAIN site.

What is the aim of Leap Day for Frogs? 
It is one day of the year when ordinary South Africans can take a leap of action and do something to appreciate and protect one of the most threatened group of animals on Earth: Frogs! These important creatures are disappearing all over the planet largely because of habitat destruction.

Why 25 February 2017?
Apart from having tongues 1/3 the length of their bodies, frogs are also famous for leaping across long distances – up to 20 times their own body length in a single leap! The South African Cape River Frog holds the world record for Frog Jumping – the longest distance covered in three consecutive jumps – at 10.3 m? Not bad for a 5 cm frog! And if you think about it, February leaps into March, skipping days 29, 30 and 31 except on Leap years, which occur every four years, adding the 29th of February to the calendar. People born on this day are called “Leaplings”.