A Conservation Strategy for the Amphibians of Madagascar

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A Conservation Strategy for the Amphibians of Madagascar

Postby Snake007 » Mon Apr 30, 2007 10:23 pm

A Conservation Strategy for the Amphibians of Madagascar By Robin Moore

Madagascar is a global priority for amphibian conservation. It harbours extremely high diversity, hosting over 220 described and at least 150 undescribed species, more than 99% of which are endemic. Major threats are habitat loss and degradation and collection for the pet trade is rife among certain taxa. However, there are also important opportunities for conservation. A commitment by President Marc Ravalomanana's in 2003 to triple Madagascar’s protected areas within five years is a critical step and it is important that we seize this opportunity to advance amphibian conservation in this critical region.

From September 18-21, over 60 national and international stakeholders convened in Antananarivo to develop a Conservation Strategy for the Amphibians of Madagascar (ACSAM). The workshop represents the first initiative to implement the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP) at a regional or national scale and as such has potential to serve as a model for other regions of the world.

After a series of presentations set the context for amphibian conservation in Madagascar and beyond, a number of pertinent themes -– including the identification of priority areas for conservation; monitoring protocols and standards; coordination of efforts; and research gaps and future directions -– were tackled in break-out groups. These groups brainstormed to develop solid recommendations for action within each of the themes.

The main product from the workshop was a declaration -– Vision Sahona Gasy -– that was presented to the Minister of the Environment at the end of the final day. Among the actions that were proposed, capitalising upon the opportunity to incorporate the needs of amphibians into the plans to extend protected area networks on Madagascar. A comprehensive Action Plan is in preparation and is expected to be completed in January.

Interestingly, the fungal disease chytridiomycosis appears to be absent from Madagascar – according to initial tests at least. While on the surface this sounds like good news, it may be a mixed blessing for amphibians. If the fungus finds its way onto the island, it could devastate populations of amphibians upon their first contact with the disease. Again, we must seize this opportunity to be proactive in preventing the introduction and spread of this disease on Madagascar.
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