Amphibian epidemic: end in sight?

In Panama, a study has analysed a number of frog populations that appear to have developed a resistance to chytrid fungus.

This fungus has spread rapidly around the world, since the 1980s and has decimated many species’ numbers. It is thought at least 100 are gone forever.

What was particularly problematic was that it affected all frogs and salamanders,  and crossed from species to species without noticeable pause. Imagine an epidemic in which a cow herd could get an illness, and any people going nearby getting it as well. Given the difficulty of stopping infection amongst a human epidemic, this would likely be catastrophic.

While a resistance in the wild population is fantastic, supporting the many species’ highly depleted (but not wiped out) populations has just got far harder. The surviving wild population is now capable of fighting off infection, the captive population is not.

Reintroducing rare animals is a time consuming, complex job. With some of these species, it may be simpler to start the captive population again, however given the small wild population you are starting with this is likely to be a highly dangerous decision,  as not all captive breeding attempts are successful.

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