As I flicked through the latest issue of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust magazine ‘On the edge’ I came a cross an article on the mountain chicken, a large endangered frog that unfortunately happens to taste a bit, well, a bit like chicken.
Now I’m not the greatest fan of amphibians but I couldn’t help but feel concerned about the poor old frog. Native to the Caribbean islands of Dominica and Montserrat, the mountain chicken is not only a national dish in own right but has had its habitat wrecked by volcanic eruptions and is now under threat from a deadly fungal infection.
To find out a bit more on the mountain chicken (classified as Critically Endangered (Fa et al., 2004)), I took a quick tour of CAB Abstracts. Here I found a key article tracking the spread of frog fungus saying that Montserrat for the moment is free of the disease (Garcia et al., 2007).
The causative agent of frog fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is currently among the 100 World’s Worst Invasive Species. A fungal infection of the skin, it affects both captive and wild frogs, and is a great threat to global amphibian biodiversity. Thought to have originated from release of pet frogs into ponds, the fungus has spread across many countries, drastically reducing frog numbers in its wake.
To read more on the mountain chicken and the biodiversity of Montserrat see ‘A Biodiversity Assessment of the Centre Hills, Montserrat’ edited by Richard F. Young, Durrell Conservation Monograph No. 1, and the species action plan for the mountain chicken, both soon to be available from Durrell.
Fa J, Hedges B, Ibéné B, Breuil M, Powell R, Magin C, 2004. Leptodactylus fallax. In: IUCN 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Garcia G, Cunningham AA, Horton DL, Garner TWJ, Hyatt A, Hengstberger S, Lopez J, Ogrodowczyk A, Fenton C, Fa JE, 2007. Mountain chickens Leptodactylus fallax and sympatric amphibians appear to be disease free on Montserrat. Oryx, 41(3):398-40.