They steal into our back gardens under the cloak of darkness, illuminating the cool night air with chirps, croaks and whistles – irresistible serenades to egg-laden females. In the morning, as the sun glints from dew-soaked reeds, the spoils of the previous night's chorus are revealed in the form of small jellied mounds bubbling from pond’s surface, heralding the onset of spring.
As days pass, small black dots piercing the center of the jelly ball elongate and wriggle free of gelatinous prisons. As days turn into weeks the wriggling larvae perform one of the most incredible transformations on earth, from denizens of the water to denizens of land. No larger animals undergo such a dramatic metamorphosis as the frogs.
Meanwhile, male salamanders dance to a silent tune at the bottom of the pond, wafting pheromones with a flickering tail towards indifferent females who carefully curl leaves around cherished eggs, one by one, as if wrapping tiny gifts, before slinking back to the forest to curl under a mossy log.It is little wonder that amphibians – creatures almost unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs - capture our childhood imaginations.
But as we perform our own metamorphosis to adulthood, our gaze shifts from shimmering ponds to backlit screens, from transforming tadpoles to viral videos, as we slowly lose touch with the creatures with which we shared our childhood adventures. Our sense of wonderment is dulled by the daily grind and we find ourselves too ‘busy’ to fish streams for tadpoles or roll crumbling logs in search of elusive salamanders. And eventually we ask Why does it matter if amphibians disappear.
Enter Meet Your Neighbours, a global initiative on a mission to reconnect people with the wildlife on their own doorsteps – and to share these with the world as crisp portraits against a luminous white background. Free from distracting backgrounds, our eyes are free to feast upon vibrant colours and explore rich textures. Without any sense of scale it is up to us to decide whether the creature is the size of a grain of rice or the size of a golf ball. We are invited to see the animals in a new light.
As an amphibian conservationist and a photographer it is a great honour to call myself one of the Meet Your Neighbours Team, and it is a privilege to call Meet Your Neighbours as a partner of the Amphibian Survival Alliance. We cannot expect people to care that amphibians are threatened if they do not first care about amphibians and, by bringing the hidden world of amphibians into the light, Meet Your Neighbours is engaging people worldwide to appreciate these often overlooked animals.
I hope you enjoy the striking portraits of amphibians in this free eBook –brought to you by some of the most talented wildlife photographers from across the world– as much as I do.
Robin D. Moore
Conservation Officer, Amphibian Survival Alliance
Photographer, Meet Your Neighbours (www.meetyourneighbours.net)www.amphibians.org