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Kaysie Ryan and the Jersey Zoo (MCP Photo)

Kaysie Ryan, New Coordinator for Montserrat’s Mountain Chicken Project

Kaysie Ryan with St. Lucia’s Racer snake (MCRP Photo)

Young Montserratian Kaysie Ryan is making history as the new coordinator for the Mountain Chicken Recovery Programme. She is the first female to do so and this after being with the project only two and a half years.

During Wednesday’s launch of a new Darwin-funded project on Biodiversity and Well Being, Director of the Montserrat National Trust, Sarita Francis acknowledged the new achievement by Ms Ryan.

Ryan’s new position is being funded through a new one-year Darwin Local grant, which also allowed for two juniors on the project to be promoted to full time employment.

The new coordinator told Discover Montserrat that part of her responsibilities will be to train the juniors and help develop them for leadership. She will also oversee the daily operations and liaise with both on-island and overseas partners.

“Even though its been two and a half years, I wasn’t expecting to get into this position so soon,” Ryan told us.

Falling in Love With Conservation

Her interest in conservation was sparked when she learned about the Redonda Restoration Project in 2017. She was fascinated by the initiative which removed the rats and goats from the rock and saw the return of its biodiversity ten-fold. That project helped her identify that conservation was what she wanted to do with her life.

Although initially hesitant to join the Mountain Chicken Recovery Programme as an intern she had already been exposed to the amphibian, and Montserrat’s bats and birds from work experiences with the Department of Environment and the Veterinary Division within the Government of Montserrat.

Her association with the national trust provided an opportunity for her to garner three months of training in Jersey or an intensive post graduate certificate course validated by the University of Kent conducted by Durrell’s Conservation Academy. There she met people from around the world with a similar passion for conservation. This intensive training provided knowledge on dealing with animals, genetics, communicating with people, workshop and project management, and much more.

Additional online training with Durrell Wildlife has provided continuous learning opportunities in Endangered Species Recovery (ESR). Ryan added that in September, the other members of the Mountain Chicken Recovery Programme will be able to take the one-week ESR beginner course.

Kaysie is also the first Montserratian to be seconded to Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Our Mountain Chickens

Kaysie’s journey has also given her the chance to visit Dominica, which also has Mountain Chickens, and Saint Lucia where she learned about their Racer Snake, the world’s rarest snake.

Kaysie Ryan says she’s always had a love for animals and the opportunity to work with the Department of the Environment and then the Mountain Chicken Recovery project helped to solidify her desire to work in conservation. (MCRP Photo)

Currently, Montserrat has only 16 of the Mountain Chickens living within the enclosure created several years ago to monitor them in the wild.

“We’ve lost a few over the years because of course they are animals and will die. We are still focused on the scientific aspect of the Chytrid Fungus, which is killing amphibians around the world,” she explained.

Last December the programme developed a five-year strategy for managing the Mountain Chickens recovery on both Montserrat and Dominica.

Dominica’s Mountain Chickens may hold some hope for the continuation of the rare frog.

There are plans in the works for the Montserrat team to travel to Dominica to help conduct surveys of the Mountain Chickens there. The Dominica breed has been found to have an allele on a gene that is helping them to survive with the fungus. The plan is to help the Dominica team replicate the enclosure used on Montserrat to they can monitor the frogs and give them an environment to help them pass on the gene to a new generation.

Learn about the Mountain Chicken Recovery Project on Montserrat and Dominica here.

Darwin Local grants provide up to £50,000 for organizations to conduct projects in their community dealing with conservation. Individuals can apply for grants up to £20,000. The second round of applications close June 26, 2023. Learn more here…