Page last updated at 23:35 GMT, Tuesday, 6 May 2008 00:35 UK

Rallying cry from frog stronghold

Common frog - Picture by Mark Pollitt
Dumfries and Galloway is a stronghold for many different species of amphibians and reptiles

Conservationists have urged people to help frogs continue to thrive in one of their natural strongholds.

Dumfries and Galloway is home to nine different native Scottish species of amphibians and reptiles.

A new group is now being set up in the region to help conserve rare and protected species as well as encourage better management of their habitats.

John McKinnell, of Scottish Natural Heritage, said more people should learn about such "wonderful animals".

We need to know more about where different species are found, continue to conserve the rare and protected species
John McKinnell
Scottish Natural Heritage

Mark Pollitt, manager of Dumfries and Galloway Environmental Resources Centre (DGERC), said he believed the public had a role to play in protecting the many species in the area.

"To ensure the group thrives we need as many people as possible to get involved," he said.

"It's a great chance to learn a little more about these creatures and to make a positive contribution towards their conservation."

Dumfries and Galloway is considered to be one of the main parts of Scotland where amphibians and reptiles flourish.

Adder - Picture by Richard Eagles
Common frog
Common toad
Natterjack toad
Palmate newt
Smooth newt
Great crested newt
Common lizard
Slow worm

The region is home to a number of rare and protected species such as the natterjack toad - found nowhere else in the country - and the great crested newt.

Reptiles such as adders, slow worms and lizards are also widespread.

However, their favoured habitats have declined in recent years through changes in land use.

According to Mr McKinnell, that is where the new conservation group could have an impact.

"A new group could really help us to learn more about our local populations of reptiles and amphibians," he said.

"We need to know more about where different species are found, continue to conserve the rare and protected species and encourage beneficial management of their habitats.

"We also need to educate more people about these wonderful animals."

A meeting to set up the new group will take place at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust's Caerlaverock nature reserve on 14 May.

The event includes an evening walk to listen and look for natterjack toads.

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