Hundreds of volunteers will work in shifts to stand guard along a road in the Tashanpei (大山背) area of Hsinchu County at the end of this month to prevent motorists from running over Sauteris frogs at the start of the mating season, an environmental group said yesterday.
Volunteers at the Society of Wilderness’ Hsinchu Branch said they will work in shifts from 5:30pm to 8:30pm every day to watch out for the frogs.
“We will be trying our best to keep the frogs safe so they can move from the woods to the creeks to breed,” said Shih Fen-ru (施芬如), who initiated the action.
Shih launched the first campaign in 2009, after she learned that hundreds of Sauteris frogs were being killed on the roadway in their mating season.
Expressing concern about what she called the local government’s over-development of rural areas, Shih mobilized the society’s Hsinchu branch to undertake “eco--traffic control.”
Dispatched in five groups along the 700m stretch of road, the volunteers look for frogs that are about to cross the road and ask passing motorists to make way for them.
“It is an exhausting but wonderful task,” volunteer Chen Ming-chen said. “It always surprises me how much things have changed over the years.”
Chen said in the past, she and her team members picked up scores of frogs run over by motorists every day and only managed to save a handful.
Although there is lack of comprehensive data on this species of frog, Shih said, she had observed a significant fluctuation in its numbers.
“We saw fewer than 1,000 frogs in 2009, then the number doubled last year,” she said. “But it seems that the population has shrunk again this year.”
The government needed to become involved in the project in order for a more long-lasting solution to be found, Chen said.
For its part, the Hsinchu branch of the wilderness society could conduct grassroots efforts to promote greater environmental awareness, she said.
“Eventually we want an ecological corridor in this area,” she said. “But until then, we are more than happy to guard the frogs every day, [come] rain or shine.”