Researchers at North-West University think they have traced the spread of the chytrid fungus, which is devastating many amphibian populations, to a long-standing trade in the African clawed frog.Huh, I had heard of licking frogs, but injecting pee into one to test for pregnancy, that is a new one to me.
The frog was used as an essential part of an unusual but effective way of determining pregnancy from the 1930s to the 1960s. The test involved taking the urine of a woman and injecting it into the frog.
If the woman was pregnant the hormones in her urine would stimulate ovulation in the frog and within a matter of hours, it would spawn.
Huge numbers of African clawed frogs were exported from South Africa to laboratories carrying out the test all over the world, beginning in the 1930s, which is the decade in which the first recorded case of the fungus appeared - traced by examination of preserved frogs in museum collections by Che Weldon, a zoologist at North-West University.While I was aware of habitat decline and global warming as causes of the amphibians decline, I was unaware that the globalization of an African fungus is also to blame.
Scientists believe the chytrid fungus is behind the disappearance of the golden toad of Costa Rica, and at least 67 percent of the 110 species of brightly coloured harlequin frogs that have vanished from the tropical forests of South and Central America over the past 17 years.