Letter: Unfair to toads

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Amphibians generally get a bad press. Your report (1 October) concerning a teacher who had found a toad in a bag of mixed salad implied that toads are dangerous and contact with them could be a serious health risk. According to the report the woman was so terrified that she screamed so much that her chest hurt and she could need medical tests to make sure she had not caught any disease from the toad. Sadly, this reflects general feeling about frogs and toads, that they are unpleasant creatures and contact with them should be avoided.

Toads in particular have suffered from many old wives' tales. Frogs and toads are generally harmless creatures that play a vital role in ecosystems throughout the world. Perhaps most importantly, they are excellent indicators of the health of ecosystems. In many areas of the world frogs and toads are declining, sometimes in pristine habitats where no cause for the decline can be established.

Fauna and Flora International is currently developing a Global Amphibian Campaign which aims to educate people about amphibians and their importance within ecosystems and to highlight the worldwide declines. Clearly, such a campaign is much needed.


Senior Conservation Researcher

Fauna and Flora International