The Guanwu Salamander Ecology Center opened to the public yesterday in the Shei-pa National Park’s Guanwu Recreation Area.
The guanwu salamander (Hynobius formosanus) is a nocturnal amphibian that inhabits mountainous areas above 1,300m in central and northern Taiwan, and is a relic from the Ice Age, like the famous Formosan landlocked salmon, the center said.
The species was first found in 2008 near Guanwu (觀霧) and has been listed as an endangered species by the Council of Agriculture.
Three years ago, the national park began research on the creature and restored a habitat near the center to conserve the species, the center said, adding that the successful habitat restoration was recognized by the International Society for Ecological Restoration last year.
Through photographs and video documentaries, the center shows the life-history and habitat of the guanwu salamander, which is about 10cm long with dark brown skin and tiny white spots.
Other than restoring its habitat and conducting experiments, Lin Ching (林青), director of the national park, said the park has remodeled its visitor center into a new ecology center to educate visitors about the area’s unique environmental features.
Lin said increasing attention was being paid to the impact of climate change on various at-risk species, so the conservation and habitat restoration of the guanwu salamander at Shei-pa National Park was an important achievement, on a par with efforts to conserve the Formosan landlocked salmon.
Minister of the Interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源), who attended the opening ceremony, said he hoped the center could also bring ecotourism benefits to nearby Aboriginal villages.