30 September 2011

Calling All London Allotmenteers

If you have an allotment in London, Froglife would really appreciate you sparing a few minutes to fill in our survey about possible training ideas.
Slow-worms can be a great help controlling inverterbrates on allotments
We are developing a new project in London called Dragon Finder. This will be a five year project and will include many different activities to involve people in conserving and spotting amphibians and reptiles.

Froglife is planning to hold Wildlife Workshops for allotment holders as part of the project, to share ideas for improving allotment sites to benefit wildlife, and to benefit the allotment holders too. Topics that we’re hoping to cover will include: controlling pests through gardening for wildlife, how to build a wildlife pond, how to encourage amphibians and reptiles to your allotment and organic growing.

As we’re still in the development stage of the project, we’re looking for input and advice from allotment holders on how the workshops should be designed. We really need to know what it is you want to find out more about - do you have any burning questions or a need for some extra tips?

We would be very grateful if you could spare a few minutes to fill in our short questionnaire to help us develop the Dragon Finder project.
You can also support our work through donations and shopping through our Frogalogue!  Find out more at the Froglife website here.

29 September 2011

Have I Got Newts For You - September

Your monthly round up of reptile and amphibian articles, by Conservation Communication Officer Lucy.

 Possible biological control for deadly amphibian fungus

There’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon… A species of Daphnia (water flea) has been found to eat the fungus that is thought to be responsible for wiping out amphibian populations across the world. Zoologists at Oregon State University found that Daphnia will eat the zoospore (free-swimming stage) of the chytrid fungus, in trials in the laboratory. The team will now start field studies to determine if this tiny invertebrate could hold the key to controlling this devastating fungus. Meanwhile, scientists from Cornell University, New York, have identified genetic factors that make some frogs immune.

Common toads are susceptible to the fungus (photo by Lucy Benyon/Froglife)

Frogs that look like moss!

Paignton Zoo’s Amphibian Ark conservation centre is currently home to an unusual species of frog – mossy frogs are native to Vietnam and certainly live up to their name. They’re a semi-aquatic, semi-arboreal species that curl up in to a ball and play dead if threatened.
Source: Paignton People (with photos)

Biologists burn mountains to bring back lizards

A 30 year study by the University of Washington has revealed that landscape-level burning of entire mountains and valleys has helped bring back populations of collared lizards in the Ozarks region. It turns out that improved fire-fighting measures led to the extinction of around 75% of lizard populations as slow-growing red cedars took over the glades making them shady and uninhabitable.
Source: Futurity

Critically endangered Siamese crocodiles hatched in captivity

The Wildlife Conservation Society has successfully hatched 20 Siamese crocodiles at Laos Zoo. Classified as ‘critically endangered’ due to overhunting and drastic loss of habitat, these freshwater reptiles can grow up to 10ft in length. The hatchlings will be released in their second year, as part of a new project trying to save the species.
Source: Wildlife Extra

Rare toad, not seen for over five years, spotted in Chilean National Park

The elusive Bullock’s false toad had not been seen since 2005 when it was re-discovered in the Nahuelbuta National Park in Chile. Researchers believe this could be the only surviving wild population of this critically endangered toad. Dependent on fast-flowing streams for laying its eggs in, this little toad has been severely affected by the establishment of pine plantations in the area and other activities which have led to streams silting up. Bullock’s false toad is ranked fifth in the 100 amphibian species most at risk of extinction, according to the Zoological Society of London’s EDGE project.
Source: I Love Chile

Camilla kisses a toad

Well not quite, but the Duchess of Cornwall did get up close and personal with the amphibian on a recent visit to Walworth Garden Farm in Southwark, South London. A keen gardener, the Duchess was unperturbed when a child handed her the toad, which she then carefully released under a near-by log. “There you are, toad in the hole,” she joked.
Source: Daily Mail

27 September 2011

Talking Toads at London Zoo this Friday

The final preparations are afoot for our event with the Zoological Society of London on Friday 30th September. Here Froglife’s Sam Taylor shares her anticipation about hearing from the speakers on the big night.

“Following Mike Dilger and Peter Firmin in the programme for Tuppence a Toad is rather daunting! In person, Mike is just as enthusiastic and charismatic as he is on the BBC’s One Show, and we’re delighted he’s chairing our event.
Common toad Bufo bufo by Oliver Kratz
 Peter Firmin is our special guest speaker and one of my heroes. Having set up Smallfilms with Oliver Postgate they brought The Clangers, Ivor the Engine and of course Bagpuss and Gabriel the Toad to life through stop-frame animation in Peter’s shed! He’ll be sharing some of his stories.

I’ll be following Peter with an update on Froglife’s Tuppence a Toad campaign to support the national Toads on Roads project, and then handing over to Froglife trustee Professor Roger Downie. Roger will be placing Toads on Roads in context with conservation efforts across the world. He is a passionate and incredibly knowledgeable speaker, recently retired from teaching at the University of Glasgow (although he’s not exactly putting his feet up!).

After the break, we hand over to some of the amphibian experts from ZSL. I can’t wait to hear about Peter Minting’s PhD looking at the chytrid virus and the UK’s rarest amphibian, the natterjack toad. And wrapping up the night is Helen Meredith, who has just started at PhD of her own. Helen is a really enthusiastic and entertaining speaker and will be discussing the weird and wonderful Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered amphibians.

All in all, it promises to be an inspiring night, packed full of information and personal stories that will touch on the cultural side of toads, citizen science, and volunteering - zooming out from the local perspective to global amphibian conservation efforts.

I hope you are looking forward to it as much as I am!”