Sunday, March 1, 2009

Playin' the Wild Card!

Melbourne, Florida. After a brief input period, Walk on the Wild Side is now this blog’s official name. I’d like to thank the many people who contributed thoughtful and creative name ideas via Facebook. To mention a few of my favorite runners-up, we had Wild at Heart, Playin’ the Wild Card and Into the Great Wide Open from Rebecca Suder, blogger at the Richmond Times' Parenting Blog; and Where the Wild Things Are from conservationist Kelly Rigg of the Varda Group. On the humorous side, actor Michael Arturo contributed Anywhere Arlo goes…; Melbourne Beach, Florida Mayor Rita Karpie contributed Arlone in the Woods and political conservative Mark Patton offered Confessions of a Recovering Liberal. To keep track of Walk on the Wild Side via Facebook, please join the blog’s fan site.

On other fronts, herpetologist and scientific illustrator Ted Kahn, who submitted the winning blog name, has provided the pictures and following content for this post. His own picture of the red salamander Psuedotriton ruber is seen below. The Wildlife Conservation Society picture above of an adult and toadlet Panamanian golden frog Atelopus zeteki depicts one of the many amphibians globally that now face extinction due to the synergist impacts of habitat loss, climate change, disease spread and introduction of invasive species. Amphibians – as so called “indicator species” - are bellwethers of what may follow for other life forms, including the human species, if steps are not taken to avert declines through the maintenance of intact and resilient wilderness areas.

Ted Kahn writes:

“Sadly, stunning toad species like this Atelopus zeteki from Panama and its cryptically green progeny, which will later in life turn brilliant yellow and black, may eventually only exist in zoological parks, and then only in photographs and to those of us lucky enough to have memories. Atelopus toads are considered the world’s most critically endangered terrestrial vertebrate species. Amphibians, in general, face an extinction rate as high as the last great extinction event, the 5th, which occurred 65 million years ago. It is our obligation to prevent the 6th mass extinction. Yes, the one we are experiencing now today.

While the world’s frogs and toads have held the spotlight, salamanders are also in dire need of conservation. Few people know that North America hosts the highest salamander diversity in the world. And they are facing extinction as well.

What can you do? Start by talking about it, look, listen and learn – then take appropriate action with the folks you meet, know, and have a “can do” attitude. It is my hope that this forum (Walk on the Wild Side) will facilitate action and reduce red tape that so often hampers solid good ideas. It is about time “Yes We Can” applied to all life, wildlife that is…”

For more information on amphibian declines and how you can be involved, visit the websites of the Declining Amphibian Population Task Force and IUCN/SSC’s Amphibian Specialist Group.

Thanks again Ted for this great input. If any reader has wilderness-related content or story ideas you would like to see posted on Walk on the Wild Side, please contact me (Arlo Hemphill) through this site.

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