The Philippines’ first conservation initiative to entice endemic species of frogs, particularly from Luzon, to breed in captivity has been established at the Museum of Natural History in response to the fast decline of amphibians in the country and the world.

The conservation scheme, dubbed as "Project Palaka" has developed an ex situ captive program that involves collecting individuals of endemic frogs from Mt. Makiling and maintaining them in captivity. The initial goal of the project is simply to breed each species, with future goals focused on the refinement of breeding techniques and captive maintenance, and a long-term target of understanding each species' captive care and reproductive requirements for conservation purposes.

Under the guidance of curators Dr. Leticia E. Afuang and Director Juan Carlos T. Gonzalez, Norman Greenhawk, a US Fulbright Scholar of Puerto Rico and a volunteer at the Museum, collected five species of the genera Platymantis, Rhacophorus, and Hylarana. Greenhawk’s collection of the endemic frogs in Mt. Makiling was approved by the university and the DENR-Region IVA.

The Museum's Hortorium has housed the Project Palaka since October 2015 and efforts to maintain the frogs in terrariums is promising. Eventually, the project will grow to include other species and genera.

"My hope is that long after my stay here, Project Palaka will be a fixture at UPLB where students and faculty can gain experience working with amphibians in captivity, improve the initial setup, and possibly expand the project,” Greenhawk said.

Project Palaka also aims to pique interest in amphibian conservation among the general public. “The Philippines has so many beautiful species of endemic frogs. They should be a source of national pride and an impetus for getting the citizenry involved in conservation efforts," he added.

Worldwide, the ex situ conservation efforts of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources is spearheaded by Amphibian Ark which has several various programs aimed at conserving amphibians through rescue and captive breeding, as well as public education.

According to Dr. Gonzalez, "the prospects of potential success is really exciting as the pilot may become a model of conservation measures in the Philippines."


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