‘Virtual frog’ app draws attention to pondlife plight

Charity campaign aims to encourage public to help wildlife that depends on ponds to contribute to keeping amphibians amphibious.

James Hayes | 10th Aug 18
Wildlife conservation charity Froglife has launched a virtual reality app that allows users to explore what life is like for toads as they journey to and from ponds.

National wildlife conservation charity Froglife has launched a virtual reality app that allows users to explore what life is like for UK toads as they prepare to journey to and from ponds.

The app, called TOADSVR, enables ‘virtual toads’ to come face-to-face with their potential threats to their progress, including road traffic, and to learn about potential solutions, such as toad tunnels. The app is available for free – all it requires is that you have a Google Cardboard (or similar headset).

In the last 100 years, the UK has lost approximately 75% of its ponds – this equates to half a million ponds, Froglife says. Froglife committed to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles – frogs, toads, newts, snakes and lizards – and saving the habitats they depend on. The charity has been been trying to restore these natural resources and encourage the UK public to help, it said in a statement.

“The hot summer of 2018 is turning into a rich one for the freshwater equivalent of bird-watching – so-called ‘pond-watching’. Hundreds of observations from pond-watchers have been reported to Froglife, including sightings of night-hunting grass snakes, newts, frogs, bats, and dragonflies bought closer to the water edge,” said Laurence Jarvis,  Science and Research Manager at Froglife.

“During hot, dry spells like those occurring this year, ponds become a life-giving freshwater oasis for a host of impressive creatures that must journey to them to seek water. By sitting calmly next to most wildlife ponds at this time of year, there is good chance of seeing something special.”

Laurence added: “Every drop of water matters… Even a washing-up bowl filled up with rainwater from a water butt can provide a stop-off for thirsty birds, roaming frogs, toads and newts, and some species of water-beetles. Some of these creatures may appear within days in hot weather like we hve experienced this year.”