Besides working on abandoned and astray reptiles and amphibians, we recently started some local conservation projects.
Herps of our concern
Imagine you are on a night safari.
What are these herps in front of you?
Click on them to learn more!
Conservation of herpetofauna (herps) refers to the protection of native amphibians and reptiles from extinction. Since native herps are facing different anthropogenic threats, we are determined to work hard for their protection, hoping to contribute to local ecological conservation.
faced by herps
香港瘰螈 Hong Kong Newt
First discovered in Hong Kong, it was once thought to be an endemic species in Hong Kong. It is the only amphibian species in Hong Kong belonging to the order Caudata. The back is brown-black, and the abdomen has irregular orange markings to warn predators.
Since the 1980s, in order to improve Hong Kong’s flooding problem during the rainy season, the Hong Kong government has converted many natural rivers into artificial catchwater to help discharge floods. However, when constructing these catchwater, the government did not consider the problem of habitat transformation and its ecological impacts.
Slow water flow
Hiding place ⭕
Breeding site ⭕
Fast water flow
Hiding place ❌
Breeding site ❌
Using Hong Kong newt as a starting point, we hope to urge the Water Supplies Department to improve the drainage work as soon as possible. According to researchers, Hong Kong’s catchwater do not have suitable plants and water bodies for the breeding of Hong Kong newts. Some catchwater in Hong Kong are very long, newts that have been washed away are now far away from the original breeding sites and populations, and there are no suitable habitats at the downstream areas. According to our observations, Hong Kong newt has the ability to climb vertically, which means they still have a chance to escape the catchwater. But even if they do climb out, they may not be near any suitable habitats. At the same time, other animals are often trapped in catchwater, such as barking deers, cattle, porcupines, wild boars, stray cats and dogs, and other amphibians and reptiles.
in the News
"Mr. Chan Man-Ho stated that Hong Kong Newts reside in slowly running streams. Since (streams) are connected to catchwaters, there is a high chance of newts being washed away, ending up at rivers and ponds that are not viable for them. He conceived that WSD did not take into the consideration of impacts on animals when the catchwaters were first designed. Humans therefore should take responsibility, such as adding nets on the sides, reducing slopes etc. to increase the chance of escaping. Foreign countries set up 'emergency ladder' for the animals without malfunctioning the catchwater.
Mr. Chan Man-Ho said that the breeding season of newts persists until Spring, and the number of newts flushed away was uncountable, urging WSD to change the design of catchwater."
眼斑水龜 Beal's-eyed Turtle
First discovered in Tai Mo Shan in 1977, native to China and Hong Kong. With a brown carapace, tan coloured plastron, with pink or yellow edges to the shell. 3 signature pink or yellow stripes on the neck, with two eye spots on top of their heads.
In Hong Kong, endemic Beal’s eyed turtles are even rarer than the golden coin turtles. In light of poaching, habitat destruction and fragmentation, pollution and other pressures, local population is under the threat of extinction. Although Hong Kong has yet to begin surveys on Beal’s-eyed turtles, under the confirmation of many experienced wildlife explorers, we know the number of this species in the wild is very low. To avoid local extinction of endemic Beal’s eyed turtles, we have launched a 10 year plan.
The project began with species preservation. Once we have collected a certain amount of Beal’s eyed turtles, they will be breeding under artificial environments of our Society after identification and comparison through DNA testing. In case the endemic species and individuals kept by our Society cannot be differentiated into different subspecies or species, implying that they are scientifically the same species, we will consider releasing these artificially-bred individuals when necessary. This project is not only a long way to go, but also uncertain to succeed. Yet to preserve this often forgotten endemic turtle, we can only take actions and try for our best. Please continue to support our work at HKHerp.
You can easily see shops in Goldfish Market, Mong Kok selling native endangered species like golden coin turtles and Beal's eyed turtles.
Breeding and hatching
溫室蟾 Greenhouse Frog
Native to the Bahamas and Cuba, it is regarded as an invasive species in many places. It has been introduced to Hong Kong in recent years with a wide distribution over the territory. Its size and behaviors are very similar to the locally protected endemic species, Romer’s tree frog.
Greenhouse frog is an exotic species. Since the metamorphism of tadpoles completes within the egg without the need of water-surrounded environment, they are easily transported to different parts of the world through flower pots. Since the species is similar in size with the endangered Romer’s tree frog, and they have overlapping distributions, ecologists are concerned that the unintentional introduction may lead to competition between the two, further threatening the already-fragmented population of Romer’s tree frog.
Threat: Exotic species
1.7 - 3.1 cm
溫室蟾 Greenhouse Frog
Eggs develop within soil
Eggs directly hatch as froglets
(without the aquatic tadpoles stage)
1.5 - 2.5 cm
盧氏小樹蛙 Romer's Tree Frog
Eggs develop in water
Eggs hatch as tadpoles
Tadpoles metamorphose as froglets
Introduced to Hong Kong, South China etc.
Transported all around the globe through horticultural pots
Most of us are told that tadpoles grow in water and become frogs eventually. Yet the process of metamorphosis can be completed without water in some frog species. Greenhouse frogs are native to Central America. Since tadpoles of this species undergo metamorphosis within their eggs, the adults only have to lay their eggs within moist soil and wait until the tadpoles complete their metamorphosis within the egg, so that they hatch directly as juveniles. They are comparatively more compatible and tolerant in environments with human disturbances, such as gardens, cities’ flowerbeds, urban parks etc. Hence they have wide distribution, and are easily transferred to all around the globe through flowering pots. Until today, Greenhouse frogs have been introduced to North America, Hong Kong, China and other Southeast Asian countries, and become an exotic species to these places.
Greenhouse frog was first discovered in Hong Kong in 2000. It is an exotic species. Unlike native species, exotic species are species that are not local to the area, but come from other places. Once the exotic species is introduced to new places, if they are capable to reproduce and establish a stable population to compete, prey or harm populations of local species, leading to deterioration of environment, damage to crops or threaten humans’ health, we are classifying them as invasive species. As invasive species pose threat to ecology, the environment and humans’ well-being, we must prevent introduced species to reproduce and root a huge population locally to cause damage. Therefore, our Society strives to instill the potential problems caused by exotic and invasive species. Since the endemic Romer’s tree frog is similar in size with the greenhouse frog, they are preying on insects of similar size. Their habitats as well coincide, implying that they may occur at the same site. Back in the 90s, Hong Kong herpetofauna conservationists devoted restlessly to protect the endangered Romer’s tree frog. As they discovered the introduction of greenhouse frog in Hong Kong, they showed great worries towards the potential threats brought about by greenhouse frogs to Romer’s tree frogs.