The Titicaca water frog (Telmatobius culeus), an endangered species, is exclusively found in Lake Titicaca, which spans the border of Bolivia and Peru. The population of these frogs has significantly declined due to various ongoing factors, such as extensive pollution and excessive harvesting for human consumption. In 2015, Bolivia witnessed a substantial loss of several frog populations, leading to a state of endangerment. However, the community of Isla de la Luna in Bolivia stands out as exceptional, as they possess a deep understanding of the frog's significance and value. They have expressed their keen interest in establishing a protected area around their island, demonstrating their receptiveness to conservation efforts. Presently, we are collaborating with the local community to establish a Sanctuary for the Titicaca water frog, its habitat, and all other species residing in the region.
The Bolivian Amphibian Initiative (BAI) has been actively engaged in Isla de la Luna since 2013, primarily focusing on educational and research endeavors. Through extensive research conducted across 50 sampled sites in the Bolivian region of the lake, it has been observed that the population of T. culeus on the island is in a comparatively healthier state. This positive finding has motivated BAI to further enhance educational programs and implement regular monitoring activities in collaboration with the island community.
Inspired by the outcomes of these initiatives and recognizing the value of the water frog, the residents of the island initiated discussions with BAI to establish a community based sanctuary. The primary objectives of this sanctuary are to enhance the protection of the species, its habitat and all the species in the area, facilitate ongoing research efforts, and encourage visitation to the area. Subsequently, BAI and the local community have engaged in comprehensive discussions, covering various aspects of the project, including the development of an eco-tourism plan. Moreover, the National Government of Bolivia has expressed its support and willingness to back this initiative, reinforcing the collaborative efforts toward conservation and sustainable tourism.
We are currently conducting the initial campaigns on the island to collaborate closely with the local community and establish the first steps of the project. Our approach is based on understanding the community's expectations and aligning them with conservation priorities. It is crucial for us to ensure active participation from the local community throughout this initiative.
During the early stages, we aim to equip the community with knowledge and skills that will empower them to make informed decisions regarding habitat conservation and sustainable improvements in their quality of life. The initial phase will prioritize training island members and organizing workshops facilitated by experts in various fields. This comprehensive approach will empower them to lead the project on a long-term basis.