Edinburgh, Jan 21 : The Zoological Society of London is going to launch a campaign to protect ten species of amphibians that are facing the threat of extinction.
According to a report in the Scotsman, the ten include the Chinese giant salamander, which grows up to 1.8 metres long, a limbless amphibian called Sagalla Caecilian which has sensory tentacles on the sides of its head, and lungless salamanders from Mexico, which breathe through their skin and mouth lining.
Also among the targeted species are the purple frog, which was only discovered in 2003 and which spends much of its time buried up to four metres underground; the Malagasy rainbow frog, which can climb vertical rock faces; and the Gardiner's Seychelles frog which grows to just 11mm in length.
The scientists will also work to protect the ghost frogs of South Africa - one species of which is found only in the burial grounds of Skeleton Gorge on Table Mountain - and the Chilean Darwin's frog, which may already be extinct.
Also in the list of endangered amphibians are the Betic midwife toad, whose males carry fertilised eggs wrapped round their hind legs, and the olm, a blind, transparent-skinned salamander which lives underground, hunts by smell and electrosensitivity, and can survive without food for 10 years.
The scheme, initiated by the Zoological Society of London to protect these amphibians is known as the EDGE (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered) scheme.
"The Edge amphibians are amongst the most remarkable and unusual species on the planet and yet an alarming 85 per cent of the top 100 are receiving little or no conservation attention and will become extinct if action is not taken now," said Helen Meredith, co-ordinator of the Edge scheme.
According to Jonathan Baillie, head of the Edge programme, "These species are the 'canaries in the coalmine' - they are highly sensitive to factors such as climate change and pollution, which lead to extinction, and are a stark warning of things to come."
"If we lose them, then other species will inevitably follow," he added.
"Amphibians tend to be the overlooked members of the animal
kingdom, even though one in every three amphibian species is
currently threatened with extinction, a far higher proportion than
bird or mammal species," said Baillie.