To rehabilitate and manage a sand pit to provide breeding sites for amphibians in Germany
There are 21 native amphibian species in Germany. 16 of these are considered threatened at the national level and have been included in the country's Red List. 2 species are considered to be critically endangered, 5 endangered, 5 vulnerable, and 2 near threatened. One more is rare due to its limited range within the country, and another is declining.
While chytrid fungus, a pathogen causing worldwide dramatic losses in amphibians, does occur in Central Europe, it does not appear to be the reason for the overall precarious situation of the German amphibians. The main reasons are rather habitat loss and fragmentation, and the high number of migrating animals being killed by road traffic.
As part of the long-term Amphibian Conservation Programme of the zoos, animal parks and wildlife parks in the German-speaking area, at least 27 institutions have decided to take measures to improve the survival of amphibians locally, i.e. on their properties or in their neighbourhood. Activities include monitoring and research, rehabilitation or creation of habitats, and, where necessary, translocations and reintroductions. These activities are accompanied by educational programmes.
In 2008, i.e. during the Year of the Frog, the Bischofswerda Animal
Park in Saxony initiated a joint project with the local youth group "Experience Nature – Conserve Nature“ comprising habitat and species
conservation measures in the former sand pit Weickersdorf next to
The former sand pit Weickersdorf used to be an important amphibian habitat but has lost its value in recent years due to forest and bush encroachment, silting up and formation of anoxic mud. Periodic monitoring since 1993 revealed a clear decline of amphibian populations.
In September 2008, i.e. during a period of the year where amphibians are found almost exclusively in their terrestrial habitats, the ponds were dug out allowing for a water depth of 0.4 to 1.0 m, trees and bushes next to the water surface were removed, and additional wintering places were created using the material dug out from the ponds. The pond landscape will now become valuable again for the smooth newt (Triturus vulgaris), Alpine newt (Triturus alpestris), crested newt (Triturus cristatus), spadefoot (Pelobates fuscus), common toad (Bufo bufo), and the common frog (Rana temporaria).
WAZA Conservation Project 08020 is implemented by the Bischofswerda Zoo in cooperation with local NGOs and financial support from the Friend of Bischofswerda Zoo.
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