Rapid Action Fund

Organisation: Zoological Society London

Project title: Gathering the evidence needed to conserve critical habitat for Vietnam’s most threatened amphibians

Location:Mount Fansipan, Hoang Lien National Park, Lao Cai Province, Viet Nam

Project date: April 2021 – August 2022

Species: Botsford’s leaf-litter frog Leptobrachella botsfordi and Sterling’s toothed toad Oreolalax sterlingae 


The challenge

Mount Fansipan is a critical habitat for the Botsford’s leaf-litter frog Leptobrachella botsfordi and Sterling’s toothed toad Oreolalax sterlingae, Viet Nam’s only Critically Endangered amphibians. Both species were described in 2013 from a stream on the mountain, and while Sterling’s toothed toad is also found in a nearby district, Botsford’s leaf-litter frog is endemic to this particular area.

The habitat is facing threats associated with tourism. There is garbage and run off from a campsite used by tourists wanting to climb Mount Fansipan, Viet Nam’s highest mountain. There is also significant gravel mining for infrastructure projects which removes key habitats needed for tadpole survival and may also cause siltation and sediment suspension.

The project

To stop gravel mining within the protected area, stakeholders want to see proof that the activity is causing a decline in populations of the two species. The project will do a population study at one site that is being mined, and another nearby site that is not. By comparing populations of breeding adults at the two sites, the project will be able to show whether gravel mining is causing population decline of the two species. These results will be presented to stakeholders, who ZSL will work with, seeking to put an end to gravel mining in the critical habitat.

“The higher elevations of Mount Fansipan are home to two Critically Endangered frogs Botsford’s leaf-litter frog and Sterling’s toothed-toad. In recent years, infrastructural developments for tourism have degraded important habitats for these frogs. ASAP funding shall support a locally led team of international researchers to provide the evidence needed to conserve critical habitat for Vietnam’s most threatened amphibians.”

 Ben Tapley,  Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians, Zoological Society of London

 

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