11 rare Philippine frogs fast dying out

At least 11 rare Philippine frog species are fast dying out due to rapid environmental degradation, former Sen. Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, Pilipinas Ecowarriors convenor, said Sunday.

The frogs have just been added to the Philippines’ official list of “threatened” species, and tagged either vulnerable or endangered, according to Zubiri, former chairman of the Senate environment and natural resources committee.

He identified them, based on their common names, as the Mindanao fanged frog, Mindoro tree frog, Hazel’s forest frog, Gigante Island limestone frog, Lawton’s forest frog, Negros forest tree frog, Polillo Island forest tree frog,  Rabor’s forest frog, Negros limestone frog, Mt. Data cloud frog, and Taylor’s Igorot frog.

Ecologists have agreed that frogs are among the most excellent indicators of ecological health, Zubiri said.

“Since frogs breathe and drink through their skin, they are directly exposed to their surroundings, whether these are forests, mountain streams, fast-flowing rivers, lakes, and ponds,” he pointed out.

The former senator from Mindanao also acknowledged that the invasion of foreign frog species carrying the highly infections amphibian chytrid fungus may also be contributing to the collapse some local frogs.

The fungus attacks the skin of frogs and destroys their ability to “drink” water and absorb vital salts.

Frogs play a crucially important role in the maze of life and in the food chain.

They prey on insects, including mosquitoes, as wells as pests such as locusts that could possibly damage farm crops.

The predators of frogs include humans, birds, monitor lizards, snakes, civet cats and other frogs.

Species are officially tagged “threatened” once their habitats have suffered extreme depletion and their populations have shrunk to a level below which the species or subspecies will be totally extinct.

Threatened species are further sub-classified either as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered.

Vulnerable species are under threat from serious adverse factors all over their range and are believed likely to drop to the endangered category in the near future.

Endangered species are at great risk of being wiped out and survival is unlikely if casual factors continue to function.

The Philippines keeps a registry of wildlife species of priority concern for protection and conservation, in compliance with existing international and national laws. The catalogue is updated regularly by the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau.

Zubiri renewed his proposal for “highly focused conservation efforts at the provincial level” to look after threatened species, and safeguard local biodiversity.

Zubiri’s Pilipinas Ecowarriors is a non-profit, registered non-governmental group that keeps watch over potential violators of environmental protection and conservation laws, including wildlife poachers.

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