From the Golden frog to the African frog which was last seen in – guess where – Rwanda back in 1950; all these and more frogs are on the wanted list because they are so precious and yet so rare and at the same time some are feared extinct! Yes, be very afraid!
Why should you be concerned about frogs – of all creatures; you may wonder but some of these held some secrets that could have possibly led to the cure of so many diseases like ulcers and cancers. Take for instance, a cure for the intestines or lining of the stomach could have been discovered just by studying one of the most amazing frogs –the Gastric Brooding frog! This frog had ( it is thought to have been extinct by 2002) had the most fascinating reproductive system. It laid the eggs(about twenty five) and after they were fertilized,she would swallow them and keep incubating them for approximately six weeks. Later on, when they were mature, she would spit them out as frogs!
While expecting her babies, her stomach would become so large that she became many times her size. Not only that; she stopped using her lungs to breathe and instead breathed through her skin!
Because the eggs were kept in her stomach for a long time, she had to stop producing the acid found in her stomach so that the eggs were not digested. Apparently, chemicals produced by the eggs and the frogs suppressed the manufacturing of the stomach acid.
This aspect of ceasing to produce stomach acid is what the scientists were beginning to study with a view of making it a foundation on the study of stomach ailments but thanks to the change of climate brought by human activities, this frog has not been seen anywhere for the last fifteen years!
Among so many other uses, frogs can be an important source of cures for cancers and other diseases. Different frogs manufacture unique secretions that can be used as relaxants, appetite suppressants as well as pain killers.
Some frogs such as the Alaskan boreal which ‘dies’ during winter and others that stay under the desert sand for months and then suddenly resurrect are being studied on the way they keep alive during this period. This will inspire the research for preserving of human body organs. That way organs could be preserved for a longer period of time making it possible for those in urgent need of an organ to get it immediately!
Lois Nakibuuka is an educator and counsellor