Amphibians 101

Amphibians, including frogs, newts and salamanders, are in the midst of an extinction crisis. According to the Global Amphibian Assessment, nearly one-third of all amphibian species are endangered or threatened, making amphibians the most endangered group of animals in the world.

Why They’re Important

Amphibians are known as indicator species.  They are extremely sensitive to changes in the environment and can give scientists valuable insight into how an ecosystem is functioning. And because amphibians are both predators and prey, many other animals are affected by them.

Major Threats

Amphibians are facing many threats to their survival. Chytrid fungus is literally decimating populations of frogs and other amphibians around the world. Domestic and international trade of amphibians for use as exotic pets, food and medicines are wreaking havoc with their numbers. They are also affected by habitat loss, pollution, pesticides, competition from invasive species and climate change.

What Defenders Is Doing to Help Amphibians

Defenders of Wildlife is a partner in the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation (PARC) project. to rescue amphibians that are in extreme danger of extinction throughout Panama due to the spread of the deadly chytrid fungus.  We are in a  race to find a cure and to build an amphibian ark to house the frogs  rescued from the jungles of Panama until they may be re-introduced to the wild.

Our International Counsel, Alejandra Goyenechea, is the chair of the Species Survival Network Amphibian Working Group, which is committed to helping stop the  international trade of amphibians by advocating for protections under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). In 2010, we helped increase protections for the Kaiser’s spotted newt, prohibiting trade of this critically endangered amphibian.

In 2011, Defenders and our conservation partners released a report, Canapés to Extinction, the first comprehensive study of the frog’s leg market ever conducted, revealing an industry rife with serious environmental consequences.

Learn more about our work with CITES on the International Conservation section of the website.