Mountain Chicken on a log. (Mountain Chicken Recovery Programme Photo)

No Mountain Chickens Sighted in the Wild on Latest Annual Survey

The Mountain Chicken Recovery Programme said this week that there were no sightings of the critically endangered Mountain Chicken during its annual surveillance activities.

“During the month of May, in collaboration with the Department of Environment, the team carried out annual historical surveys across the Centre Hills. 16 night hikes were conducted to assess whether Mountain Chickens are present in the wild. These surveys have been implemented annually since the arrival of chytrid in 2009,” the MCRP noted on its Facebook page.

“The month of May is chosen for two reasons, one being we’re within breeding season and the frogs will be vocal. Second, being it is the month prior to hurricane season, whereafter, any rains will make the transects to dangerous to undertake. During each survey the team will sit in silence for 10 minutes at various points along the transect, head torches off, to listen for any Mountain Chicken calls. Whilst out hiking, we keep our eyes peeled for the reflection of the Mountain Chickens eyes, which reflect red in our light beams,” the MCRP said.

The MCRP is funded by the Darwin Initiative and run by Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Department of Environment and the Montserrat National Trust. The goal is to help save the Critically Endangered mountain chicken frog from extinction.

Mountain Chickens only exist on two islands in the Caribbean; Montserrat and Dominica. Threatened by volcanic activity, invasive species, hunting by humans for the fleshy legs and the chytrid fungus, this unique frog is in danger of going extinct. The project is an effort to conduct releases of young frogs, conduct research on both Montserrat and Dominica in an effort to recover the species.

Although no mountain chickens were found during the surveys, the organisation is hopeful that they will “one day rediscover Mountain Chickens in the wild here on Montserrat.”

However, this is not the end. There are currently 22 adult Mountain Chicken frogs who are cared for in a semi-wild enclosure as part of the project’s research.