How to build an ark for Fire salamanders?
By now you may have noticed that the Fire salamander in Germany is not only struggling with changes in its habitat. For a few years now, an introduced fungus has been causing additional problems. Unfortunately, so far there is no way to get rid of this “salamander eater” called Bsal (from Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans) in the wild. And the crux of the matter: Infected Fire salamanders are killed relatively quickly by Bsal. Recently, the fungus has also been detected in Bavaria. Therefore, the question is now also being asked there, how the fire salamander, and here especially the subspecies of the spotted fire salamander, which in Germany is only found in south-eastern Bavaria, can be preserved in the long term.
Milestone for the conservation breeding of the Fire salamander
Frogs & Friends, under the leadership of our curator for research and zoology, Johannes Penner, together with the LBV Bayern and other partners, has compiled a feasibility study summarising the various possibilities for keeping Fire salamanders and highlighting the respective advantages and disadvantages. In addition to the questions of how and how many animals should be cared for under which husbandry regime, there are numerous other questions to be clarified: How is a quarantine optimally designed? Which veterinary examinations make sense? How can the whole thing be well documented over long periods of time? In human care, Bsal can be treated successfully. So it is possible to save at least some Fire salamanders until hopefully one day a way is found to eradicate the fungus in the wild – or until Fire salamanders develop resistance and can thus survive with Bsal.
The next steps
Since an ark can always leak, it is advisable not to house all the Fire salamanders at one location, but to distribute them among several boats. It is planned to try this out over the next five years in cooperation with numerous partners, to gain further experience and thus take a first step towards the conservation of the Fire salamander. Now it is time to acquire the necessary financial resources. So keep your fingers crossed for the Fire salamander that it will soon get its urgently needed ark(s)!