photo taken by Misja Smits

On the edge of extinction

In our childhood frogs speak to the imagination when you look at the stories of frogs in many childrens books. In those stories frogs can even turn into a princes. And frogs are also photogenic if you look at the many popular calendars filled with frog pictures. But for nature and conservation organizations it’s much easier to start a conservation project with very cuddly animals like the giant panda. But protection is very much needed because many amphibian species are on the edge of extinction. Worldwide,  one out of the three species is listed as treatened with extinction on the red list of the IUCN International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Almost 2000 species are on the threatened with extinction, most frog species. In the past 20 years even more than 100 species have become extinct, many in the last years. These are alarming figures! They are threatened the most by degradation and loss of their habitat, transformation of natural forest into pastures and cultivated fields, ora wetlands into urban areas, pollution of water with pesticides and agrochemicals, etc and pesticides. However, some of the most drastic declines have occured inside well-managed protected areas without obvious changes in the environment. We know that some diseases are also causing problems among amphibians – particularly a parasitic fungus called chytrid, which has the ability of wiping out entire populations of some amphibians in a very short time. Some of the species thought to be extinct or on the brink, as well as some declining inside protected areas, are thought to be victims of these fungus.


The new enemy of the amphibians is the fungus Batracochytrium dendrobatidis. This fungus caused the fungal infection chytridiomycose and grows in keratin in the outer layer of the amphibians skin. Infected amphibians usually die within a few weeks. The 1st high mortality of frogs was spotted in the Monteverde cloud forest in Costa Rica. Meanwhile chytrid has affected many amphibians worldwide and several species have already become extinct. The IUCN described the disease as `the worst infectious disease that vertebrates have ever taken and a major threat to biodiversity´

In 2012, U.S. Scienists wrote in the scientific magazine Nature Climate Change that the fungus may also benefit from the temperature fluctuations caused by global warming. It was discovered during research that the fungus grows rapidly when the temperature fluctuates unpredictably. Scientists worldwide are urgently trying to find a way to manage the  chytrid and to develop tolerance and resistance. Amphibians in captivity, receiving treatment with antifungal medications respond positively. Unfortunately, there is still no good method to effectively treat amphibians in their natural environment in the wild, though there are some recent promising results with antifungal bacterial treatments applied to the skin of frogs (probiotic treatments).

Frogs life

The project is an initative of professional nature photograhper Edwin Giesbers. By means of publications in  various media, he hopes to create more awareness for the threatened amphibians. Several magazines have agreed tot co-operate and among others Edwin is working in 2014 on an assignment for National Geographic Magazine NL and Belgium. Also several exhibitions are going to be organized and a frog book is planned. In addition to this exposure a fixed percentage of our nett sales is going to organizations that are commited to protect amphibians and also do research on the diseases that threaten the amphibians. At this moment selected organization is RAVON (Reptielen Amfibieën Vissen Onderzoek Nederland).  Dr. Jaime Garcia Moreno, Amphibian Survival Alliance’s former Exexutive Director, provides advice and supports the project.


Frogs are photogenic and Edwin’s frog photos are used on magazine cover’s, calendars, book cover’s and even on the BBC Life DVD box and Dutch Television (interview with famous TV presenter Paul de Leeuw). Please contact Edwin if you like to talk about the Frogs Life project or have any ideas to work together and show the frogs to the world.