Just how much the planet is being polluted might be hard to determine because we each do not see firsthand where all these chemicals are going. Even harder to ascertain is how pollution subtly undermines the functioning and supporting capacity of the environment. But one thing is for certain: amphibians (frogs, toads, newts, salamanders, and caecilians) are disappearing at a phenomenal rate all around the world.
These are some reasons why some people DON'T like frogs but this is an unfortunate point of view. Frogs are an important animal to our environment besides being endearing creatures to admire. Ever notice how a frog calmly sits and appears not to notice what's happening around it? The food might scurry past it several times but it doesn't make a move until the food reaches a certain distance and then the frog suddenly pounces on it. Are you as calm, cool and composed? Doesn't that kind of genuine patience and self control make you envious?
What's Killing Frogs in Cairns?
Although Cairns is located in a tropical climate and is not far from World Heritage protected rainforests, Cairns itself is rather inhospitable to amphibians. While there are isolated pockets where frogs can still do well (for example, some streets backing onto bush and much of Division One south of Gordonvale), overall, frogs in Cairns in the past 20 years have gone 'down the tubes'.
Pets are a good thing. They keep us company and enrich our lives. But not everybody looks after their pets in the best way. Environment groups have long been voicing their concerns about the damage that cats especially can do to wildlife. Regardless of whether you consider the estimates of native animals killed to be accurate, there can be no denying that the modern cat still bears the qualilities of its hunting ancestors: very sharp, retractable claws; fast reflexes and running speed; good vision and hearing.
That's how it seems when you look at all the threats frog populations face in our current environment. Frogs have been around this planet in their modern form for roughly 50,000,000 years, but in the past 30 years, their numbers have been under vicious assault to the point that species are going extinct at the drop of a hat.
Since the startup of the frog hospital, some very interesting cases have come to light, many of which are scientifically significant. For example, the incidence of cancer in frogs is exceptionally rare but we've already had over 50 tumour cases turned in. Four types of tumours have been identified so far but three others have been seen at times when we didn't have the money to cover biopsies.
The introduction of neonicotinoid insecticides in the 1990s allowed us to simplify agricultural crop systems,(1,2) but it was followed by widespread environmental contamination and extensive loss of biodiversity.(3) Think about how many bugs you used to be able to find on a car windscreen after a long drive, and just how rare that phenomenon is now! This dramatic loss of insects is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to species decline related to environmental contamination.(3) Increasingly, contamination of wetland ecosystems is being detected, and this has caused a growing concern for aquatic species such as amphibians(4). Approximately 70% of amphibian species are experiencing population decline, which may be due to one or several of the following factors: habitat loss, overexploitation, environmental pollution, climate change and the amphibian chytrid fungus disease.(5,6)