- Feb 6, 2001
- Reaction score
- Display Name
- John Clare
Dr. Kevin Zippel of Amphibian Ark has kindly written about what we as enthusiasts can contribute to the conservation effort. There's a lot of substance here and I know we've already made some progress with some species through this community. Thank you to Kevin for taking the time to write to us.
Kevin Z said:
Hi John, well I can't speak for the entire zoo community, but I and a handful of others certainly feel that much (dare I say the majority?) of husbandry expertise resides in the private sector, especially when it comes to caudates. I see great potential for the private sector to have a hand in amphibian conservation. Unfortunately, I fear that long-held concerns about accountability are currently too great to say that we will be swapping endangered species any time soon. But I have been thinking about other ways that the private sector can help.
1. Husbandry research. This might entail using surrogate species (that you can get) as models for threatened species (that you probably cannot get), e.g., if you can teach us how to consistently breed Necturus maculosus, maybe we can apply that to N. alabamensis. Also, there are evolutionarily distinct (and therefore valuable) species that are not yet threatened but likely will be someday. Rhinophrynus dorsalis is off the charts for ED, Ascaphus are pretty high too. I don’t believe that zoos know how to husband these things, but I bet a private sector keeper hell-bent on it could figure it out, write the book, and stick it on a shelf until the day it is really needed. I have to laugh, we can't even breed Anaxyrus (Bufo) americanus consistently or without hormones, no wonder we struggle with A. baxteri and B. lemur!
2. Saturating national pet markets to alleviate pressure on wild populations. I just learned that Mantella is the highest-traded CITES amphibian, and 80% of them are coming to the US. We don't have to lobby for trade restrictions and expend limited resources intensively managing assurance populations in zoos, we just need some expert breeders in the US to mass produce them (no husbandry tricks with this one) and saturate the market (something zoos will not do) selling them cheaper than wild-caught, hopefully with some of the proceeds going to habitat protection back home. Same can be said of darts, and some sallies like Neurergus kaiseri and Paramesotriton laoensis. You guys could kill that trade in a year, if you set your hearts on it, right?
3. Fundraising. It's amazing what grassroots can do. We have brownies in Cleveland collecting cans, 2nd-graders outside of Columbus donating more to our efforts than 96% of zoos, 9-year-old boys foregoing b-day presents for donations to AArk. It can be something as small as $50/month to pay the kids in Panama to collect wild inverts for the threatened amphibs inside EVACC, or $50,000 to save an entire species from extinction single-handedly. The possibilities are endless.
Food for thought.