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Interior minister opens 1st ecology center for Formosan salamander

2012/04/21 18:51:37

Taipei, April 21 (CNA) Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan said Saturday that the Formosan salamander is facing a serious survival crisis due to climate change as he opened the first ecological centerfor the endangered species at a national park in northern Taiwan.

Lee noted the center for the rare amphibian is another important conservation effort of Shei-Pa National Park in Miaoli County, following its efforts to conserve the Formosanlandlocked salmon.

Lee said climate change has drawn widespread attention due to its impact on ecology and species, adding that every day, 140 speciesbecome extinct.

"Due to changes in climate and environment, the Formosan salamander, which has survived in humid and cold environments at mid to high altitude since glacial melting happened thousands of years ago, faces a serious crisis of survival," Lee said.

He lauded the Shui-Pa National Park , saying that it has built a habitation and ecology center for the rare animal through long-term research and compilation of data.

The species is called "wild pepper fish" in Chinese, because it secretes a pungent liquid that smells like wild pepper as a defensive measure against predators.

Adult Formosan salamanders are about six to nine centimeters in length.They range in color from brown to black and some have irregular yellowstripes. They have big heads, short limbs and slippery bodies and are listed as a critically endangered species in Taiwan.

The salamanders originally lived in cold northern areas, but because of climate change, they have been pushed into the high mountains above 2,000 meters.

The Shui-Pa National Park has conducted surveys and has begun rehabilitating the amphibian since it was first spotted in Guanwu, in anarea on the border of Hsinchu and Miaoli counties.

(By Angela Tsai and Lilian Wu)