African clawed frogs; a species of frogs that was once used to test for pregnancy is today becoming the reason of devastation.
In the late 1920’s, doctors discovered that injecting an African clawed frog with the urine of a pregnant woman, the frog would ovulate and lay eggs and eventually ascertain the woman’s pregnancy. They became quite popular and these species were shipped across the world. However, when modern pregnancy tests emerged, the labs using these frogs were closed down. The frogs were released into the wild without giving a thought of the impact that they would have on the ecological system.
Scientists have found that today these South African Clawed Frogs are proving to be threat to all the amphibians as they carry deadly fungus. The fungus carried by them impacts other aquatic amphibians as it gets passed by wind or through water resulting in big losses of biodiversity.
This apocalyptic chytrid fungus has been scientifically named as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. The fungus colonizes the absorbent skin of other amphibians leading to their skin thickening, imbalance of iron in the body, neurological disorder and difficulty of regulating their body water and electrolytes finally resulting in death. Infected frogs die of lethargy and cardiac arrest. Today, they are the cause of extinction of many amphibian species in South America, Central America, Australia, Dominica and the Caribbean. It has apparently contributed in the decline of 30% of the amphibian species in the world.
Apart from the other uncertainties like loss of habitat, pollutants, global warming, deforestation, a number of species are facing threat by this added stressor. About 200-400 species have been decimated since the last decade.
It appears that the frog is unaffected by the fungus. Evolution has run its course, they have figured out different means to survive and have become immune to it.
Bringing this menace to halt is near to impossible as there is no vaccine to curb their effects, therefore every effort to eradicate them has proved futile.