- Our planet is in the middle of a mass extinction — the sixth time in Earth’s history that animal and plant species are disappearing in enormous numbers.
- Amphibians, particularly frogs, are among the hardest hit by this extinction crisis, as are insects and reptiles.
- At least 2,000 species of amphibian are in danger of extinction, according to a recent study. A report from the United Nations confirmed that 40% of amphibian species are threatened.
- Here are photos of 15 endangered frogs, geckos, and snakes that might soon disappear.
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Human activity has killed off 680 mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, and fish species since the 1500s. As much as half of the total number of animal individuals that once shared the planet with us are already gone.
That death toll is likely to rise dramatically over the next decades.
A recent report from the United Nations found that between 500,000 and 1 million plant and animals species face imminent extinction. At least 10% of insect species and more than 33% of all marine mammals and reef-forming coral are threatened, it found.
But one group is expected to suffer most of all: Amphibians. An estimated 40% of amphibian species face extinction, according to the UN report. A study published in the journal Current Biology estimated that at least 2,000 amphibian species are in danger of extinction.
This group includes frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts.
In the past 50 years, more than 500 amphibian species have experienced population declines worldwide, and 90 of them have gone extinct, due to a deadly fungal disease called chytridiomycosis (or chytrid fungus), which corrodes frog flesh.
According to a recent study in the journal Science, chytridiomycosis has wreaked havoc on frog, toad, and salamander species around the world. Amphibian deaths associated with chytrid fungus represent the greatest recorded loss of biodiversity attributable to any one disease, the authors found. Humans enabled the disease to spread further than it otherwise could have in large part because of the global wildlife trade.
Dutch photographer Matthijs Kuijpers has made it a personal mission to capture images of many colorful and bizarre amphibians before they disappear. His work is published in his new book, called "Cold Instinct" — take a look.
Most scientific evidence points to one conclusion: Earth appears to be undergoing a process of "biological annihilation," largely due to human activity.
This brilliantly colored yellow skink, a type of lizard, is severely threatened by logging and deforestation. It lives on the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Kuijpers has so far photographed 1,500 species, across every continent except Antarctica.
One of those species is this giant bronze gecko (Ailuronyx trachygaster), which was recently rediscovered in the Seychelles, off the east coast of Africa. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists the gecko — which Kuijper said hangs out in Coco de mer palm trees — as vulnerable to extinction.
Kuijpers says he want to show the "essence of the animal” in each of his photos.
In the image above, he captured the gaze of a Doi Suthep bent-toed gecko, which is native to northern Thailand.
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