As Frogs Disappear Worldwide, ‘There Is No Way to Stop That Killer’


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As Frogs Disappear Worldwide, ‘There Is No Way to Stop That Killer’

Dec. 12, 2023
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By Volker Schlecht, Alexander Lahl and Max Monch

Mr. Schlecht, Mr. Lahl and Mr. Mönch are filmmakers.

We met the ecologist Karen Lips in Washington, D.C. One morning, she picked us up from a Metro station and took us to Shenandoah National Park, keen to show us a species of salamander.

Dr. Lips describes herself as an amphibian forensic scientist. For decades, she has been researching the disappearance of amphibian species, and what she told us that day was shocking.

As filmmakers, we’ve covered the extinction of species and other ecological issues in our work for years. Mammals, reptiles, insects, fish — much of the planet’s wild fauna is threatened with extinction. But no other vertebrate class is as threatened as amphibians. Herpetologists like Dr. Lips don’t just fear for individual species; they fear for the class Amphibia as a whole.

No one else we had met and interviewed on this subject seemed to be as affected by it as Dr. Lips. To put it simply: Frogs, salamanders and all amphibians are her life. For her, their increasing disappearance from our planet is a personal drama.

We finally found a few of the salamanders toward the end of our day up in the mountains. We were delighted at seeing them but also disheartened. Dr. Lips had no doubt that they, too, could soon vanish. That night, full of emotion, we interviewed Dr. Lips, who is the voice of this documentary.

This is about much more than frogs and salamanders. It is about all life on our planet.

Volker Schlecht is a Berlin-based illustrator, artist and filmmaker. Alexander Lahl and Max Mönch have made numerous films and are the managing directors of mobyDOK, a Berlin-based production company. They previously produced the Op-Docs “Broken: The Women’s Prison at Hoheneck” and “Rebel Monk.”

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