Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Rare 'mountain chicken' frogs airlifted from path of deadly fungus

One of the world's rarest species of amphibians has been airlifted to safety from Montserrat in a last-ditch attempt to save it from extinction

See also: A billion frogs on world's plates, accelerating amphibian extinctions

The 'mountain chicken' frog

By Jessica Aldred and agencies

Conservationists have rescued a number of critically endangered "mountain chicken" frogs from the path of a fatal disease which has hit their Caribbean island home of Montserrat.

The decision to remove 50 mountain chicken frogs (leptodactylus fallax) from their natural habitat was taken in the face of the spread of the chytrid fungus, which is devastating amphibian populations worldwide.

The Zoological Society London (ZSL) and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, based in Jersey, have each provided a home for 12 of the frogs which have been removed from Montserrat. Another 26 have gone to Parken zoo in Stockholm.

The plan is to breed the rescued frogs in captivity in a bid to save the species from extinction.

Montserrat is one of only two sites where the once-common mountain chicken is found, but hundreds of the frogs - one of the world's largest species - have been killed in the last few weeks by the disease. …

Dr Andrew Cunningham, a senior ZSL scientist, said: "Chytridiomycosis has already decimated the mountain chickens on Dominica and within a few weeks of the disease being diagnosed on the neighbouring island of Montserrat, its impact has been catastrophic. The mountain chicken frog has been virtually wiped out on the island and the number of surviving frogs decreases every day." …

Rare 'mountain chicken' frogs airlifted from path of deadly fungus

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