The mountain chickens spend their first night in the wild and the release continues…

Radio-tracking released mountain chickens.
Project volunteer Payana radio-tracks released frogs. © Gerardo Garcia

The team was eager to see where the frogs had settled down for the night after their release so headed out to do some rough fixes on the frogs’ positions during the day. We were avoiding working at night at this point because the frogs were still very flighty so we didn’t want to disturb them too much during their peak times for movement i.e. from 6pm onwards. The animals had all stayed close to their release site, mostly in the ghaut area with some heading up the eastern banks to hide in some convenient rock piles. It was really exciting to hear the first little beeps on the transmitters picking up signals.

Later in the afternoon project volunteers Payana and Izzy had some mountain chicken handling practice. This involved them getting inside the ponds (which Gerardo had watered a short while before) barefooted to scrabble around trying to catch frogs. The frogs clearly had other ideas and wanted to give the humans a run for their money!

Mountain chickens being prepared for release
Project Research Officer Lloydie Martin unpacks a mountain chicken ready for release. © Gerardo Garcia

It’s quite tough to get the technique right for catching mountain chickens: you have to sneak up on them from behind and then swoop in to catch them around the waist using a firm ring made from thumb and finger to keep hold (their body and legs are too big to fit through this ring). Eventually, all the frogs in three of the ponds had been caught, bagged and pre-release biometrics taken…they were ready to join their friends in the forest!

At some release sites a bit further up the main ghaut, we set up the ‘soft release’ using the tents again, and waited for the frogs to make the forest their new home. The frogs headed straight for the ghaut and were calling after about 20 minutes.

– Isabel Jones

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