Has the mountain chicken run out of time?
The most recent previous estimates had put the surviving population at fewer than 50 frogs, and the results of this latest survey confirm what we already feared: mountain chicken frog numbers are continuing to decline in the face of a perfect storm of threats from natural disasters and climate-induced hurricanes, floods and wildfires to hunting, road hazards, pollution, non-native predators and deadly disease.
Urgent intervention is clearly needed to save the remaining population, but the success of this collaborative rescue mission will hinge on getting all our frogs in a row to ensure that we can address both the immediate and longer-term threats to the mountain chicken’s survival.
Jeanelle Brisbane, Forestry Officer with the Wildlife and Parks Division of Dominica’s Forestry Department, and founder of local conservation NGO, WildDominique, said: “Conservation is a collective responsibility, and the mountain chicken frog is a symbol of that shared duty. By rallying the support of government agencies and enlisting the enthusiasm of the public both on island and abroad, we can demonstrate that our iconic frog’s survival is a matter of national pride. We must act now to ensure its continued presence in our natural and cultural heritage.”
Isabel Vique, Fauna & Flora’s then Senior Programme Manager in the Caribbean, was among those taking part in the field survey and feels a real personal connection with the species: “Participating in the mountain chicken frog survey was an incredibly inspiring experience. Collaborating closely with conservationists from around the world, all united in our mission to prevent the extinction of this species, felt like an extraordinary privilege. I can say with certainty that few moments in my life have been as thrilling as the first time I laid eyes on a mountain chicken frog. This profound encounter, combined with the sobering findings of our survey, has fuelled the team’s unwavering determination to safeguard this species.”
Jenny Daltry, Director of the Caribbean alliance forged between Fauna & Flora and Re:wild, and whose love affair with the mountain chicken dates back to 1995 when she led the first survey in Montserrat, is under no illusions about the magnitude of the challenge ahead, but insists there is hope: “The Caribbean has suffered the world’s highest extinction rates but we have seen other wonderful species bounce back with swift and concerted support, such as the Saint Lucia amazon and Antiguan racer. We are appealing for urgent funding to enable our Dominican partners to accomplish another miracle, and save the iconic mountain chicken.”