'One giant leap for the frogs' | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 02, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 02, 2008

'One giant leap for the frogs'


Schoolchildren, wearing masks of frogs, taking part in the Bangladesh episode of the 'One giant leap for the frogs' at the Dhaka Zoo on Monday (left) and Children are drawing pictures of frogs at Dhaka Zoo (right). Photo: Anisur Rahman/Star

It was 11 in the morning on Monday. Around 50 schoolchildren were hopping and croaking like frogs all around the Dhaka Zoo premises while their parents and curious zoo visitors were cheering them up.
This was the Bangladesh episode of the 'One giant leap for the frogs' programme to mark the launching of 2008 as the Year of the Frogs.
Scientists and conservationists observe the planet is fast losing its frog species at a pace never seen before. They are comparing the decline as the biggest incident of extinction after the dinosaurs.
Scientists say almost all of the earth's frogs, toads and other amphibians are heading toward possible extinctions due to climate change, habitat destruction, pollution, various fungal diseases, extensive use of pesticides in agriculture.
Soon we may find ourselves in a world without tadpoles or pollywogs or the evening choruses rendered by tree frogs and toads, scientists predict.
In an all-out effort to halt the looming extinction, zoo professionals, conservationists and aquariums from around the world have joined hands. In August 2007 they declared 2008 as the Year of the Frogs, which was launched all around the world with the symbolic leapfrog event performed by children.
As the New Year moves across the globe from East to the West a wave of staged leapfrog event was held at 11am local time on the New Year's Eve at various zoos around the world with one zoo handing the game to the next zoo in the timeline.
Around a hundred zoos in 20 countries took part in the event. The first zoo to start the giant leap was Auckland Zoo in New Zealand. It ended in The Living Desert in Palm desert, California, USA.
In Bangladesh the programme took place in Dhaka, Chittagong and Rangpur zoos and Dulahazra Safari Park amidst festivity.
Around 50 cheerful students from Saint Josef School, Munshi Abdur Rouf School, Nur Mohammad Rifles School, Maple Leaf, Little Angle and three other schools in the city participated in the leapfrog event in Dhaka Zoo.
Wearing frog masks they played the leapfrog and croaking games.
The programme was also marked with a frog song, a frog painting competition among the participating children and a rally inside the zoo.
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) revealed that one-third to one-half of the world's 5,743 amphibian species are currently threatened with extinction. Studies estimate that as many as 122 species of amphibians have probably gone extinct since 1980, while an additional 435 species have declined into a category of critically endangered, 761 are endangered and 668 falls in the vulnerable category.
In Bangladesh there are 34 species existing currently. Bangladesh has three endangered and five vulnerable species.
The main goal of this campaign is to share information, develop captive breeding and hold protection and awareness building programmes.
In the programme, zoo and aquarium professionals including the curator of Dhaka Zoo pledged to dedicate a designated facility for safekeeping and breeding of the frogs. After captive breeding the creature will be released back in the wild.
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and IUCN endorsed the programme all around the world. Bangladesh part of the leap was organised by the Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh.

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