Guanwu Salamander Center, the first of its kind in Taiwan, will be inaugurated at the Shei-Pa National Park on April 21, 2012. A ceremony will be held, as hosted by Minister of the Interior Lee Hung-yuan.
Guanwu salamanders are nocturnal amphibians that reside in mountains of 1,300m altitude or more in central and northern Taiwan. Just like Formosan landlocked salmon, one of the most cherished endangered species in Taiwan, Guanwu salamanders are a relict species from the glacial period. Because they were found in Guanwu, they were named as “Guanwu salamanders” as the discovery was announced in 2008. In the same year, they were listed as an endangered species by the Council of Agriculture under the Executive Yuan.
Back in 2004, the salamanders’ habitat had been severely damaged by typhoons. To recover the precious species, the Shei-Pa National Park Administration conducted a series of studies and tried establishing a new habitat on a piece of land near a visitor center. After four years of hard work, a substantial number of Guanwu salamanders have been found to live there. The successful attempt was listed on the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council website.
The inauguration ceremony will kick off at 10 a.m. Indigenous tribal leaders will give prayers with attendants, and students from the Taoshan Elementary School, Wufeng Township, Hsinchu County will play xylophones and perform Ayatal dances. Handmade sticky rice cakes will be served on site. Participants may also see an exhibition entitled “A Dialogue between Ecological Tour Guides and the Nature” at the center’s ecological art gallery.
The center will open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily except Mondays. Ecological films will be played, and guided tours to the salamanders’ new habitat will be available. Interested members of the public may register at the center. It is hoped that, by taking the tours, people will learn more about Guanwu salamanders, observing them at a close distance without bringing much disturbance to the tiny amphibians.