To conserve amphibians in Colombia by means of breeding, research and environmental education
Looking at amphibian diversity from a country perspective, Colombia, with at least 697 species, has the second largest number of amphibians of any country on Earth. Topped only by Brazil, Colombia has also the second highest level of amphibian endemism - 309 species are endemic to the country, or rather to specific regions within the country, such as the Andes, Chocó region, Caribbean coastline or Amazonian lowlands. But, according to the Global Amphibian Assessment (IUCN 2005), this diversity is at risk: 209 - i.e. 30% of all amphibian species - are considered threatened as of today.
The recent decline of amphibian populations has many causes. In Colombia, the ongoing loss of habitat in montane areas, as well as unexplained declines in good habitats, have led to the decline and possible extinction of many species. The status of Chytridiomycosis, which occurs in neighbouring Panama and Ecuador, is unknown, but the disease is spreading rapidly.
Joint efforts are undertaken by the Zoológico de Cali and Zurich Zoological Gardens with a view of contributing to the conservation of the amphibian biodiversity in the Valle del Cauca in SW Colombia. The project focuses on a wide array of taxa, including poison arrow frogs (Dendrobates spp.), stubfoot toads (Ateopus spp.) and greenhouse frogs (Eleutherodactylus spp.).
For reaching their goals, the zoos use three tools:
- Establishment of an ex situ conservation centre for the management of endangered species and for providing research opportunities.
- In situ conservation research on the status and biology of amphibian populations and the status of Chytridiomycosis.
- Conservation education by means of the development of education programmes for amphibian conservation at Cali zoo as well as in the local communities at the Valle del Cauca.
Furthermore, an amphibian husbandry course for the region of Colombia and Ecuador will be organized at Cali zoo.
WAZA Conservation Project 06017 is implemented by Zoo Zürich (Switzerland) and Cali Zoo (Colombia) with financial support from EUAC.
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