July was a busy month for the project! Not only did it see the arrival of the first Durrell representative in Montserrat for 2 years and the initiation of the first phase of the new reintroduction project, we also started making excellent progress on all fronts; engaging the local community, conducting background data collections, habitat surveying and last but certainly not least converting a once derelict volcano shelter into a building suitable for breeding insects.
Now I hear what many of you are thinking! “Why on earth are you breeding insects?! Your supposed to be saving mountain chickens!”
Well think of these insects as the foundation from which we are going to build a population of strong healthy and resilient mountain chickens. Access to this plentiful supply of food (when properly up and running), will ensure that our mountain chickens are in peak physical condition year round. Particularly during times of the year when insect populations are naturally low and the mountain chickens would be struggle to find sufficient food. They’re going to need all of the nutrition they can get to help their immune systems fight back against the deadly chytrid fungus and this building will help ensure they have it.
The video above demonstrates how we went about converting the shelter and I think you’ll be surprised about just how derelict it had become. One highlight of this process for me has been being able to take something like the shelter, which many Montserratians associate with memories of fear, loss and uncertainty during the volcanic eruptions of the 90’s & 2000’s, and turn it into something positive that is going to help to restore the island by bringing a piece of the islands natural heritage back to it and it’s people in the form of the mountain chicken.
Soon the valleys and ghauts will echo with the mountain chicken’s call, and the true sounds of the Montserratian night will have returned once again.
Please enjoy the video.