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The Croak

Updated: Feb 28

Amphibian Conservation Conversations


Launching Anura Africa – Advancing Amphibian Conservation in Africa



Rattling Frog -Western Cape, South Africa
Rattling Frog, Western Cape, South Africa


anuran

/əˈnjʊərən/

ZOOLOGY

noun

1.    a tailless amphibian of the order Anura ; a frog or toad.


This Leap Year, 29 February 2024, we are proud and excited to launch a new amphibian-focused conservation organisation - Anura Africa.


What, you may ask, is Anura?


The word “Anura” comes from the Greek[1] for “without tail” and describes the Order of amphibians comprising frogs and toads. Which raises other questions.


What is an Order? What’s the difference between frogs and toads?


An Order, in biological classification (Latin: ordo) is one of the eight major hierarchical taxonomic ranks in Linnaean taxonomy, i.e., the system for naming species, devised by the Swedish biologist Carl Linnaeus. There are over 500 different animal Orders, and they are spread across over a hundred different Classes. The mammalian class to which we belong contains 19 different orders. There are three orders of amphibians – the Anura (the frogs), the Caudata (salamanders) and the slightly more obscure Gymnophiona (the legless caecilians).


As of February 2024, there are over 7680 species of frogs and toad, with new species being discovered and described every year.


Globally, there are 57 families of Anura, an exceptionally diverse group of animals that make up a large proportion of the biodiversity in most tropical and temperate ecosystems on the planet.  


Anurans are the predominant Order of amphibians present in southern, and indeed, throughout Africa, with 19 families represented, from the burrowing Rain frogs (Breviceps), that never set (small shovel-shaped) foot in open water if they can help it, to the almost fully aquatic Clawed frogs (Xenopus), more colloquially known as the Platannas. Just four species of Salamander can be found at the northern tip of Africa, while 30 species of Caecilian occur in Central and Sub-Saharan Africa and associated islands, such as the Seychelles and Sao Tome. By far, the Anurans take the lead, with approximately 1140 species of frogs and toads occurring throughout Africa, including Madagascar. 

 

Toads are classed together with frogs and are represented by one of the anuran families – the Bufonidae (the ‘True toads’). So, remember the adage - all toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads! Toads are characterised by bumpy skin (these are not warts!) and usually a more terrestrial life history than many frog species. They also lay eggs in strings – sometimes tens of thousands – as opposed to the smaller clutches laid by typical frogs.


While almost everyone knows what a frog is, the term “Anuran” is less well known by the general public. But we believe this to be a (no-pun-intended), jumping-off point for conversation about the organisation – Anura Africa. And that is exactly what we want to do.


Have conversations. About frogs. With everybody.


We also want to learn more about frogs, help protect them and their precious spaces into perpetuity and connect with those working around the world working on them, and especially those who may not even know that they want to work on them!


“Anura”, is also used as a girl's name with Indian roots, means "knowledge." This name is Sanskrit in origin and can be an encouragement to baby to indulge in their curiosity. Building knowledge of Africa’s frogs and awakening a curiosity of them is an essential part of our mission at Anura Africa. We aim to advance amphibian conservation across Africa's landscapes by supporting landscape-level amphibian conservation priorities. It is our vision that our conservation projects are informed by conservation evidence and implemented alongside strengthened capacity of local conservationists to ensure resilience for species, habitats and communities.


We are guided by three key pillars:


Conservation Evidence

By identifying needs and knowledge gaps, and bolstering research capacity through partnerships, we aim to implement conservation actions that are informed by evidence.


Landscape-level Resilience Management

We intend to support sustainable landscape-level habitat protection by facilitating natural resource management practices aimed at ensuring the conservation of critical amphibian habitat. Our approach is guided by global amphibian conservation priorities, with a focus on enhancing ecosystem resilience to safeguard species adaptation, especially in the face of climate change.


Strengthening Local Capacity

Integral to our mission is supporting mindset shifts towards appreciation for African amphibian conservation through skills transfer, citizen science, partnerships, improving awareness and strengthening local capacity.


We are pleased and excited to share with you this LEAP we are taking into growing amphibian conservation capacity in the region, and look forward to partnering, sharing and learning with you as we go! We would love to connect with you:

 

Contact Us


Dr Jeanne Tarrant

+27 (0)83 254 9563


Keir Lynch

+27 (0)84 369 0969


Admin Office

+27 (0)63 461 5964

 


[1] The origin of the order name Anura—and its original spelling Anoures—is the Ancient Greek "alpha privative" prefix ἀν- (an- from ἀ- before a vowel) 'without', and οὐρά (ourá) 'animal tail'. meaning "tailless". It refers to the tailless character of these amphibians.

 





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