Environment Department releases Mountain Chicken Awareness Poster

BRADES, Montserrat – The Montserrat Department of Environment has released a poster aimed at raising awareness of the critically endangered Mountain Chicken (Leptodactylus fallax).

The poster funded as part of the Darwin Initiative Mountain Chicken Project, implemented by the Department of Environment and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust depicts a healthy mountain chicken showing its moist textured skin, colour and markings on the hind legs, which distinguish it from the invasive cane toad. A set of pictorial inlays and text briefly describe the lifecycle of the frog, the islands where remaining populations are still found, the diet of the frog and the effects of the deadly skin disease chytridiomycosis.

The posters will be distributed to schools and government institutions and displayed in frequently visited public areas. Additionally, electronic copies will be available online at www.gov.ms and www.mountainchicken.org.

Gerard Gray, Director of the Department of Environment says “mountain chickens have cultural significance for Montserrat and Dominica but are now under threat of extinction. The frog has encountered many pressures over the years including hunting; the impact of volcanic activity; exposure to increased populations of invasive animals; such as rats and feral pigs, and decimation by the chytrid fungus that has caused the extinction of hundreds of amphibian species worldwide.”

The Department of Environment has embarked on a recovery project that aims to develop a long-term strategy to manage the species. The project is being implemented with the assistance of overseas partners including Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Zoological Society of London, Parken Zoo and the North of England Zoological Society. The project involves intensive monitoring of the surviving frogs in Montserrat; release of captive bred animals and research on the dynamics of the disease; all of which will inform crucial management decisions. Once developed, the long-term strategy will also be used to manage Dominica’s Mountain Chickens.

Gray says the department is appreciative of the public’s support of the Mountain Chicken Project and continues to appeal for any sightings of the mountain chickens or if the frog’s distinctive call is heard to contact them at 491 9278.

Find out more about the mountain chicken at www.mountainchicken.org.