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Intel volunteers assist in wetland preservation and restoration of Taiwan’s indigenous aquatic plants on a long-term basis  

Focus of this issue: Chinese Bullfrogs (Hoplobatrachus rugulosus), a common dish in the early days of Taiwan rural villages

In summer evenings, especially after raining, loud frog cries can be heard, and such frogs can be found by following the direction of their cries. This issue of our e-newsletter introduces Chinese Bullfrogs (Hoplobatrachus rugulosus), a common dish in the early days of Taiwan rural villages. The edible frog is also commonly referred to as “field chicken.”

f1_photo-1↑Chinese Bullfrogs (photo courtesy of Chen Dehong)

 

Chinese Bullfrogs are big as compared to other species of frogs. Their head length is relatively longer the head width, and there is an obtusely pointed long rostrum. The eardrum is large and prominent but the temporal fold is not prominent. The body back color is primarily yellowish green, greyish brown, dark brown, or graphite. Infant frogs are usually green with some dark spots or striations but without any dorsal median line. Body and belly sides have irregular streaks. The skin is very coarse, and there are many bar-shaped folds of different lengths distributed orderly on the back. There are many light color warts on the back, flanks, and legs. The smooth belly is cream with some black striations. Upper front legs are thick and short with transverse lines. Fingers are obtusely pointed and subarticular tubercles are very prominent without any palm tubercle. Rear legs are thick and strong with transverse lines, too. Fully-webbed toes have long and narrow internal metatarsal tubercles, but there is no external metatarsal tubercle. A male frog has a pair of external vocal sacs beneath the throat.

 

The frogs tend to hide in pondside grass or waterweeds while crying, and their continuous and rapid cries sound like metal beating. They are big but alert to anybody approaching, leaping away immediately with their powerful rear legs at any slight commotion. They are voracious enough to swallow a common pond frog (Fejervarya limnocharis) in just one bite, and therefore they are very deceivable and were often caught as an extra staple food for mankind. Because they eat a lot and therefore grow very fast, they the most common frog species reared by artificial feeding. Their eggs are big and the diameter of an egg can be as long as 1.8 mm. Individual eggs float on the water separately. Tadpoles are big and a tadpole can be as long as 5 cm. The tadpole tail is two times of the body length. The tadpole back is greenish brown with some black fine spots, and there are gold-color spots below the eyes and by the snout. There fine spots on the tail fin, too. Tadpoles are benthos and tend to stay in calm water areas.。
Similar genus:
Common Pond Frog (Fejervarya limnocharis)
1. Smaller body
2. Shorter and disorderly distributed skinfold
3. Dorsal median lines found on some of them
4. Pure white belly without any striation

 

Kuhl’s Large-headed Frog (Limnonectes kuhlii)
1. Smaller body
2. M-shaped skinfold on the back
3. Eardrum concealed under the skin
4. Larger head

f1_photo-2↑Chinese Bullfrogs tend to hide in pondside grass or waterweeds while crying, and their continuous and rapid cries sound like metal beating (photo courtesy of Chen Dehong).

In early days, Chinese Bullfrogs could be often spotted in rice paddies and were eaten by mankind because of insufficient food supply back then. Wild Chinese Bullfrogs have decreased considerably because many of them have been caught, pesticides are widely applied, and the frog habitats are spoiled. Nowadays it is purely a matter of luck to see any of them in the wild. Moreover, their timidity also makes it difficult to observe them and the bigger they are, the more timid they are. They would jump right into the water one after another even before anyone gets close enough to them. They can make the water more turbid when jumping into it and hide themselves safely underwater. A good way to get close to the frogs is to go to a place where they are likely to appear, stop moving once there, and use flashlight to search them. Once they are spotted, keep the light on them temporarily and walk gently and slowly to them to observe them closely.

f1_photo-3↑Chinese Bullfrogs (photo courtesy of Chen Dehong)

f1_photo-4↑Volunteers from Intel Taiwan visit the aquatic plant sanctuary in Wanli.

For more than five years, volunteers from Intel Taiwan have been visiting the aquatic plant sanctuary in Wanli on the second Saturday of every month, cleaning up footpaths, getting rid of invasive alien plants, and digging ponds and embanking water to develop an environment where aquatic plants can propagate. They welcome everyone to join them to together protect the environment.

 

About Intel’s volunteer service provided to the Wanli wetland

Since December 2010, volunteers from Intel Taiwan have been visiting the aquatic plant sanctuary in Wanli every month, assisting in wetland development and restoration of Taiwan’s indigenous aquatic plants. The sanctuary is private property but provided by Mr. Chen Dehong (陳德鴻) to help restore Taiwan’s rare aquatic plants. Large machines and tools cannot work on the farmland, where ecological ponds have been developed by manual labor. At the beginning, Intel volunteers relied on hoes and shovels to dig ecological ponds one after another on the terrace field there, and then crystalized soils to prevent water leakages, and used rocks to build pond side slopes and footpaths.  Working with the Society of Wildness, Intel volunteers have transformed the abandoned terrace field into ecological ponds and an artificial wetland to accommodate and restore the aquatic plants unique to Taiwan

 

After the ecological ponds there gradually took shape, they started to help transplant aquatic plants restored from other wetlands in Taiwan, such as Barringtonia racemose and Cephalanthus naucleoides from Yilan and Salix alba var. Tristis from Nantou.  Because different aquatic plants need different environments, for example, insectivorous plants need an infertile environment, Intel volunteers moved sand and flows to the habitat of insectivorous plants. When Salix alba var. Tristis is dormant in winter, it has to be pot-transplanted and then distributed to natural parks or schools for ecology education.

 

Moreover, the sanctuary needs manpower to keep its environment clean. For example, footpaths need to be weeded and invasive plants in ecological ponds should be removed on a regular basis. After typhoons, pond side slopes should be reinforced.

 

Since December 2010, there have been near 1,300 person-times of Intel volunteers with more than 6,000 volunteer hours logged. More than 150 kinds of plants have been preserved, amounting to one-third of the indigenous aquatic plants in Taiwan.

 

P.S. Gratitude to the photos provided by Mr. Chen Dehong

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