26 February 2013

John Shuttleworth Falls for Frogs

Wildlife conservation organisation Froglife are celebrating the support of an unexpected ambassador for amphibians.  Cult comedian/musician and Radio 4 favourite, John Shuttleworth (AKA Graham Fellows) contacted the reptile and amphibian charity when Graham became concerned at the lack of frogspawn in his local area, and then read more widely about the shocking extent of the global amphibian extinction crisis.
Musical comedian John Shuttleworth has hopped on board the amphibian cause 
"My 10 year old  son, George wanted to see what frogspawn and tadpoles looked like," explained Graham. "It was Spring but the ponds in my area were all frogless. I realised the only way was to go on Youtube. Fancy that - a kid having to go online to find out what a tadpole looks like. When I was his age, we had frogspawn coming out of our ears! The shock of this realisation galvanised me into contacting Froglife and offering John's services." Graham added.

It is estimated that up to 50% of all amphibian species across the globe are threatened with extinction mainly due to loss of habitat such as ponds and forests, and devastating diseases. However, these worrying declines aren’t just restricted to remote tropical rainforests. In fact, of the 7 species of amphibians we have in the UK, 4 are national priorities for conservation as a result of noted declines or severely restricted distributions. Full survey data is lacking on all our native amphibians, and even the ‘common’ species are thought to be suffering local declines again due to habitat loss and disease. To add to the situation some non-native amphibian species have settled in habitats in the UK, posing possible problems for our native animals.  Froglife is working hard to keep the UK’s wild amphibians flourishing – including finding out more about how native species are getting on, and working with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) on mapping incidents of amphibian disease.  

“The statistics around the global decline of amphibians are frankly terrifying,” explains Sam Taylor, Communications Coordinator at Froglife.  “Despite the level of loss that’s happening, a lot of people are really unaware that frogs, toads and salamanders like newts are in the most threatened groups of animals in the world, more than birds or mammals.”

To help tackle this, John Shuttleworth and Froglife are working together.  John is fundraising at his (well, Graham's) hometown gig on the Out of Our Sheds tour on the 27th of February at the Riverside Centre in Louth, and plans are afoot for a high profile event to celebrate the Save the Frogs Day in April 2013.  Plans for the event are top secret at the moment, with ideas in the pipeline to grab some much needed attention for the cause.

“We are really excited that John Shuttleworth has joined the amphibian conservation cause,” adds Sam.  “With his help, we plan to make a splash on Save the Frogs day to remind people how amazing amphibians are, and highlight that they really need our protection.  We want to make sure future generations have the chance to see frogspawn in their local pond, just like John did.”