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Calls to ban trade in amphibians from Asia
International researchers said the study provides strong evidence for banning the trade in amphibians from Asia.
Movement of amphibians ‘directly contributed’ to chytrid spread

A deadly fungus that is responsible for decimating the world’s amphibian populations is now thought to have originated in East Asia.

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), or chytrid fungus, has long been known as a cause of declines and extinctions in species of frog, toad, newt and other amphibians across several continents. However, its place of origin has remained unclear.

New research published in Science suggests that the human movement of amphibians - for example through the pet trade - has directly contributed to the spread of the pathogen around the world.

International researchers said the study provides strong evidence for banning the trade in amphibians from Asia, owing to the high risk of exporting previously unknown strains of chytrid out of the region.

The research team studied 234 samples of the pathogen from around the world. They identified four main genetic lineages, three of which are distributed globally. The fourth, however, was only found in Korea, on frogs native to the region.

Further analysis revealed that these Korean strains were native to the region, and most closely resemble the ancestor of all modern Bd.

In addition, the findings suggest that the range of the disease expanded greatly between 50 and 120 years ago, which coincides with the rapid global expansion of intercontinental trade.

The study also highlighted another amphibian pathogen, B salamandrivorans (Bsal), which emerged from Asia and is affecting salamanders in Europe. As with Bd, the spread of Bsal is linked with the global trade in pet amphibians from Asia.

Professor Matthew Fisher from Imperial College London, which led the research, said: “Our research not only points to East Asia as ground zero for this deadly fungal pathogen, but suggests we have only uncovered the tip of the iceberg of chytrid diversity in Asia.

“Therefore, until the ongoing trade in infected amphibians is halted, we will continue to put our irreplaceable global amphibian biodiversity recklessly at risk.”

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Vets save premature penguin chick

News Story 1
 Vets have saved a tiny Humboldt penguin chick after her egg was accidentally broken by her parents. Keepers at ZSL London Zoo were shocked to find the chick, named Rainbow, still alive and rushed her straight to the Zoo’s on-site veterinary clinic.

It was a little way to go until the chick should have hatched, so the process was touch and go. Vets removed bits of shell from around the chick with tweezers until she could be lifted out and placed in a makeshift nest.

Rainbow is now in a custom-built incubation room where she spends her days cuddled up to a toy penguin. Keepers will hand-fed Rainbow for the next 10 weeks until she is healthy enough to move to the penguin nursery.  

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BVA infographic to help shoppers understand farm assurance schemes

An infographic to help members of the public understand farm assurance schemes has been produced by the BVA. The infographic outlines BVA’s priorities for animal welfare and shows whether or not the schemes address these priorities in their standards.

BVA president John Fishwick said: “The infographic is not intended to be a league table but to allow people to understand what aspects of animal health and welfare are addressed by assurance schemes so that they can decide which scheme best aligns with their own individual preferences and priorities."