Threats

  • Loss and fragmentation of habitats is the immediate threat to amphibians in Sri Lanka. The vast majority of the Sri Lankan amphibians are restricted to the southwestern wet zone of the island. In this area more than 95% of the original forest cover has now vanished and approximately 800 km2 of relatively undisturbed forest now remains. Even this is severely fragmented, however. Mining and quarrying has also contributed to the increasing loss of amphibian habitat.
  • Many amphibian species are found to dwell in small, localized populations and hence run a higher risk of falling prey to catastrophic events such as severe droughts and forest fires.
  • The widespread application of pesticides and herbicides in tea plantations that now occupy all but the highest peaks poses a further threat to amphibians by drastically reducing the availability of insect prey.
  • Haphazard and widespread application of pesticides and herbicides in agricultural lands such as paddy fields and tea plantations cause direct mortality of amphibians as a result of toxicity. The loss of prey (insects) also results in further adverse impacts on amphibian populations.
  • Air pollution creates a highly acidic environment, threatening 50% of amphibian species.
  • Climate change and severe weather such as droughts, temperature extremes, storms and flooding have further added to the decline in amphibian populations.

Conservation Actions

  • Captive breeding and artificial propagation is underway for several species of threatened amphibians.
  • Restoration of habitats and natural processes.
  • Protected areas have been set up to cover nearly 20% of the total land area which will afford protection to many critical amphibian habitats.
  • Preparation and implementing species recovery programmes for selected species.