Reptiles and amphibians are under threat globally. More than half of the world’s 330 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises are threatened with extinction due to illegal trade and habitat loss. Lizards such as the blue iguana and Fiji iguana also have suffered dramatic losses in the last few decades. Chytrid fungus, an extremely infectious disease, is devastating amphibian populations around the world. A number of these species have experienced catastrophic declines, with populations now numbering only in the hundreds or less, and teeter on the brink of extinction. In response to this crisis, WCS works to save reptiles and amphibians around the world. In 2012, WCS launched an organization-wide program to revive some of the most endangered turtle and tortoise species. Efforts include breeding programs at the Bronx Zoo in New York, head-start programs abroad, and working with governments and communities to save species on the brink of extinction. Species include the Burmese starred tortoise, the Burmese roofed turtle, the Southern River terrapin, and the Central American river turtle. WCS is also working to save threatened North American turtles including those found in the Northeast, including NY, such as the bog turtle, spotted turtle, Eastern box turtle, and wood turtle. Through these efforts a number of species have already seen significant population increases in the wild. A similar program for the blue iguana in the Grand Caymans has seen a similar population increase there. Meanwhile WCS Health Programs' scientists are leading work around the world to understand the devastation caused by Chytrid fungus and save amphibians, from the Peruvian Andes to the Albertine Rift of Africa and across Cambodia, Vietnam, and Lao PDR.
Resource: Amphibian Medicine Training Tutorials (Created by WCS veterinarian Dr John Sykes to provide a basic background to the concepts of amphibian medicine)
Burmese star tortoise photo credit: WCS Thailand