Sandra Owusu-Gyamfi is Ghana’s first female amphibian biologist. What is an amphibian biologist? Well they study and take care of animals like frogs, and toads and lizards who live part of their life on land and the other part in water.
Over at Save The Frog Ghana, Sandra and her team are on a mission to promote amphibian conservation by protecting the environments in which amphibians live.
This is an excerpt from her interview with Levers in Heels:
“SAVE THE FROGS! is the world’s leading conservation organisation dedicated exclusively to the protection of amphibians. Its goal is also to promote a society that respects and appreciates nature and wildlife. It was founded in the United States of America by Dr. Kerry Kriger in 2008.
SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana was founded in 2011 as Ghana’s and West Africa’s first branch, and it is the only organisation dedicated exclusively to the protection of the region’s amphibians. Amphibians in Ghana like elsewhere are rapidly declining. One in three species are threatened with extinction, and without appropriate interventions they will not survive in the coming centuries. Aside these factors usually implicated for amphibian decline worldwide—habitat loss, pollution, climate change, diseases and over-exploitation, other significant problems thwarting Ghana’s amphibian conservation efforts include apathy, pessimism and lack of awareness among the general public. Ghana has little tradition of educating its populace about the amphibian extinction crisis and knowledge has been restricted to a handful of local amphibian experts and individuals. However, I and the STF! Ghana team have always envisaged a Ghanaian society that would respect and appreciate amphibians and we have made significant progress in this respect.
Prior to the establishment of SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana (hereafter STF! Ghana), there were just three professional amphibian biologists in the country. In just over two years of our organisation’s existence, we have increased the number of local amphibian biologists six-fold (from 3 to 18). This includes two other female amphibian biologists. I am also part of the team that did the recent rediscovery of the Giant West African Squeaker Frog (Arthroleptis krokosua) which has made international headlines. It took us over 4 years of intensive search and countless man-hours to finally rediscover the species. We further investigated the threats the species was facing which was preventing it from recovering from the brink of extinction. That was when we noticed the negative impacts of the invasive weed Chromoleana odorata (Devil weed/Acheampong weed) on not just the species but other amphibians.
As the Programmes Co-ordinator I organise educational outreaches in schools and local communities. I’ve organised four Save The Frogs Day Celebrations (the world’s largest day dedicated to amphibian actions) all over the country. This brought together over 1,000 participants who received free education and items such as stickers and t-shirts. I’ve also organised two amphibian workshops; one at the University College of Agriculture and Environmental Studies and another at the University of Development Studies-Tamale, benefitting a total of 150 students. Finally, I help to identify prevailing threats to amphibians, and advice on the mitigation measures that could be implemented. One pending project I’ll be undertaking is to remove amphibians trapped in puddles on roads; the first of its kind in West Africa to prevent amphibian road kills.”