At present, Vietnam contains a total of 182 species of amphibians, and within the past five years about 25 new amphibian species have been described. In contrast to this increasing, still underestimated and poorly studied species richness, many populations, if not whole species, are facing extinction as a result of habitat loss and intense collection for food consumption, trade and traditional medicine use. We still have only very limited knowledge about the natural history of most of these species, which is urgently required both for proper conservation measures in the wild, and for husbandry management and breeding research under captive conditions. This is necessary to be prepared for conservation breeding efforts in times of population declines, e.g., caused by the chytrid fungus. In Vietnam, we want to be prepared for such scenarios and thus need to better understand the natural history and husbandry management required. In response, the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources (IEBR), together with the Cologne Zoo, decided to promote the ex-situ research and conservation of amphibian and reptile species in Vietnam. The first phase has been successfully carried out at the breeding station on the outskirts of Hanoi. However, because of the land reallocation and the small size of the breeding station in Hanoi, IEBR and Cologne Zoo are planning to implement the second phase of the in-situ and ex-situ research/conservation at the Me Linh Station for Biodiversity in Vinh Phuc Province in the next five years.
This area of Vietnam provides habitat for the following project target amphibian species; Blanford’s Whipping Frog (Rhacophorus dennysi), Kuhl’s Wart Frog (Limnonectes kuhlii complex), Vietnam Warty Newt (Paramesotriton deloustali) (VU), Black-webbed Treefrog (Rhacophorus kio) (VU), Tonkin Bug-eyed Frog (Theloderma corticale) (DD), and Chapa Bug-eyed Frog (Theloderma bicolor) (EN).
The Me Linh Station for Biodiversity was established in 1999 by the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology with the main focus to keep, breed and research Vietnamese wildlife species in an “in-country facility”. Detailed goals are as follows: 1) to breed endangered species for a) understanding and studying husbandry parameters, b) to maintain at least a captive assurance population, and c) to be prepared for subsequent release of offspring into the wild, if required; 2) to study the natural history, especially the reproductive biology of rare or poorly known species in captivity; and 3) to provide services for education and nature conservation.
The following actions are proposed under this project:
• Protect all the native target amphibian species and their habitat through reforestation and improved protected area demarcation and enforcement.
• Monitor the herpetofauna of the Me Linh Station.
• Investigate the husbandry and breeding of selected threatened and poorly known species of amphibians.
• Provide services for conservation education of visitors and students at the Me Linh Station.
The unique amphibians of Vietnam have received little conservation focus. This project will address three primary threats at and around the Me Linh Station for Biodiversity. The habitat of threatened species will be more adequately protected and reforested where illegal timber harvest has occurred. In addition, threatened species will be bred in captivity when assurance colonies are needed to avoid risk of extinction due to the disease, chytridiomycosis. Community outreach will also be conducted to inform people in the area of the importance and vulnerability of their amphibian species.
© 2012 Global Wildlife Conservation