Saturday, 13 September 2014

World’s rarest frogs saved from extinction and released in the Caribbean

Leptodactylus fallax (1).jpgOne of the world’s rarest frogs, the mountain chicken frog, bred as part of an international project to save the species from extinction, has been successfully returned to its Caribbean home ahead of the global day on Saturday to highlight the plight of their species.

Fifty one Critically Endangered mountain chicken frogs, native only to the islands of Montserrat and Dominica, were released back onto Montserrat this summer following a hugely successful breeding programme at Zoological Society of London (ZSL) London Zoo.

In 2009 it was reported by conservationists from ZSL and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust that the wild population of mountain chicken frogs in Montserrat had severely declined due to disease, and urgent action was needed to safeguard their future.

The frogs had been decimated by the spread of the Chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, and facing the very real threat of extinction. A small population of the last remaining healthy frogs was airlifted from Montserrat in a dramatic rescue mission.

Transported to three custom-built centres at ZSL London Zoo, Durrell in Jersey and Parken Zoo in Sweden, the 50 rescued frogs were the founders of the conservation breeding programme established to preserve and develop a healthy population of the animals, which would have otherwise undoubtedly been destroyed by the fungal disease.

The Mountain Chicken Recovery Programme is a partnership between Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, ZSL, North of England Zoological Society Chester Zoo, Nordens Ark and the Governments of Montserrat and Dominica.

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