Comedian, author, writer and frog enthusiast Stephen Fry has lent his voice to an emotive new animation created by international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London), hoping to raise the profile of the deadly Ranavirus threatening UK common frogs.
Introduced to Great Britain by humans in the 1980s, Ranavirus mainly affects common frogs (Rana temporaria) but also affects other amphibians and could affect fish and reptiles. Research from ZSL, which formed the basis of the film’s content, found that at least 20% of Ranavirus cases over the past 30 years could be attributed to human-caused introductions such as pond owners introducing fish, frog spawn or plants from other environments.
Stephen Price, amphibian disease expert at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology and UCL said: “Having studied Ranavirus for more than a decade, it was becoming ever more apparent that we needed to do something different to get people‘s attention and alert them to this deadly disease unfolding in their back gardens – because they can do something about it. People can help stop the spread by avoiding moving potentially infected material such as spawn, tadpoles, pond water and plants into their own pond. Disinfecting footwear or pond nets before using them in other water bodies will also help, while building wildlife ponds that mimic more natural freshwater habitats, which provide shade, will help frogs to keep cool and therefore lower the severity of the disease.”
Amphibians are vital to the world’s ecosystems, they are one of the most incredibly diverse forms of life, found almost everywhere. They are essential components of food webs; frogs and newts keep the insect and slug populations in check and serve as prey for foxes and birds. Without frogs, localised ecological collapse could follow.
Members of the public can assist by reporting sick or dead amphibians to ZSL’s Garden Wildlife Health Project, which helps track diseases affecting British garden wildlife:www.gardenwildlifehealth.org
For information on what Froglife are doing to tackle amphibian diseases, take a look here.
Take a look at ZSL’s Ranavirus fact sheet here.
Watch the animation narrated by Stephen Fry below: