Japanese Giant Salamander
The Japanese Giant Salamanders belong to a group of salamanders that are the largest living amphibians known today. Japanese conservation authorities have focused on this endangered species since 1971, when the Asa Zoo in Hiroshima began studying and rescuing this species from its deteriorating habitat. Annual captive breeding since 1979 has resulted in thousands of offspring. The Japanese conservation authorities have also designated this species as a special national symbol, ensuring complete protection by supporting its habitat in specific areas.
Endemic to the Yunnan Province, China, the Emperor Newt is protected under Schedule II, Species Subject to Local Key Protection. This colorful species is under extreme threat of becoming extinct in the wild due to habitat destruction, human consumption and illegal smuggling into the international pet trade. Conservation action undertaken to preserve this species include captive breeding undertaken by Detroit Zoo which has produced hundreds of offspring since 1989. Many of the young have been moved to other zoos throughout the US.
Mallorcan Midwife Toad
Previously thought to be extinct with only fossil records providing an indication of this species’ presence on our planet, the Mallorcan Midwife Toad is a prime example of great conservation success. When a handful of surviving populations were discovered in 1980, state and regional laws were rapidly implemented to forbid its capture. In 1985, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Mallorcan Consellaria de Agriculturai Pesca produced a conservation action plan that included in situ and ex situ studies, captive breeding and releases and range-country education. Following the first release in 1989, the population of the Mallorcan Midwife Toad has swelled, relaxing its IUCN Red List Status from Extinct to Vulnerable.
Puerto Rican Crested Toad
The Puerto Rican Crested Toad is the only toad endemic to Puerto Rico and was thought to be extinct until 1967, when a small breeding population was discovered in a seasonally flooded parking lot. Captive work began with this species in 1980 at the Mayaguez Zoo and the offspring produced there in 1980-81 were sent to zoos in the US, including Buffalo Zoo. Puerto Rican conservation authorities have also initiated education and habitat restoration programs in high schools and local communities and supported research on toad habitats and diseases by graduate students and veterinarians. As a result, the population of this rare toad is on a slow, yet steady rise.
Negros Cave Frog
The Negros Cave frog is known historically only from limestone caves in south central Negros Island in the West Visayan region of the Philippines (Alcala and Brown 1998). None of the habitat in its range is protected and human encroachment continues to threaten the survival of the species and wildlife in the area generally. This includes proposals for dam construction and forest clearance. Concerns about the status of the frog were raised in 2000, following a very preliminary assessment of frog numbers, although this was not based on any coordinated surveys (Alcala and Alcala 2000). However, the suggestion of a greater than 90% decline in less than 20 years created much interest within the Philippines and resulted in a more detailed survey by researchers from Silliman University in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. This survey was funded by Chester and Melbourne Zoos, and recorded frogs in 86 caves across Basay Province, from 147 caves surveyed (C. Dolino, pers. com.). Numbers ranged from 6-16 frogs per cave, for an estimated population size of around 800 frogs. The continuing movement of people into the area was identified as the major threat to the survival of the cave habitats, together with associated pollution, damage to the caves, and collection of bats, snakes and cave swiftlets for food. A series of recommendations has been presented to the local DENR (Department of Environment & Natural Resources) office for action, but implementation will require external support.