Animal Conservation

Pakistan’s amphibians need more research and better protection – sciencedaily

Amphibians are bioindicators of ecosystem health and can also serve as a biological control of crop and forest pests. The first Herpetological Congress, held in 1989, presented alarming conclusions on the decline of amphibian populations. Currently, amphibians include the highest percentage of threatened species (> 40%), as well as the highest number of species for which there is insufficient data (> 1,500 species). How little we currently know about the occurrence of the chytrid fungus, which has already eradicated many amphibian species around the world, is a grim example of the urgency for further information.

Researchers just published the first comprehensive study of all known amphibian species from Pakistan in the open access journal ZooKeys. They report 21 species from the country, providing their identification key and photographic guide. However, as many potential habitats for Pakistan’s amphibians are difficult to access and study, especially the arid mountains of the north and west at high elevations, it is highly likely that many species remain to be discovered.

In particular, the authors stress that habitats facing destruction, urbanization, pollution, unsustainable use and other man-made threats should be given high priority, so that conservation strategies appropriate can be designed. In this way, amphibian populations would be better controlled with less financial, administrative and human resources.

So far, amphibians have been excluded from all current legislative and political decisions in the country. Likewise, they are not protected by any law. Therefore, the legislation on rare and endemic species needs to be updated. Appendix III, which includes protected species, provincial and federal wildlife laws, and the CITES appendices are in particular need of revision.

Currently, wildlife conservation projects in Pakistan mainly focus on carnivores, ungulates and birds. Therefore, the study authors propose to take an inclusive approach to wildlife conservation in Pakistan. This approach would advocate the integration of poorly documented taxa, such as amphibians, in wildlife conservation and management projects. It is by highlighting the importance of their existence and the intrinsic values ​​of all wildlife species that local ecosystems can remain healthy in the long term.

“There is also an urgent need to change social attitudes towards the appreciation and importance of amphibians in our society. This could be achieved by initiating community outreach, outreach and classrooms, and through citizen science programs, ”the researchers add.

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