Forestry staff help search for mountain chickens
Payana and the Forestry guys finalising plans for a night of mountain chicken searching

Local knowledge of the forest is key to us being able to work efficiently and constructivelyon Montserrat.

The Montserrat Department of Environment’s Forestry team helped us a lot when we were building the temporary ponds to house the frogs when they arrived on island, and now, they are helping us to find them again in the forest. As local men of the forest, the guys working for the Forestry Department are invaluable to us working in their environment. They have been helping us radio track giving us the option to have more teams out at a time, and at different times of day, looking for our released mountain chickens.

Searching for mountain chickens
Jervaine (Forestry) looks for a mountain chicken hiding in tree roots

This has really helped with our daytime searches, and more recently our night time ones. This is because the transmitters have started to fail so we’re relying more and more on spotting mountain chicken eye shine at night to locate them.

Many of the Forestry guys used to hunt mountain chickens: they have keen eyes and ears and their skill at spotting the frogs even when they are well hidden is incredibly helpful. They can also accurately follow the far away calls of mountain chickens that we can’t locate via eye shine or radio tracking. One good example of this was when Jervaine and Izzy were preparing to walk out of the forest, heard a mountain chicken call and followed it. The call turned out to be a frog we hadn’t seen in over a month! It’s very hard to follow calls accurately because distance is hard to perceive in the forest and calls can bounce off things.

Forestry staff help with mountain chicken swabbing
Jervaine and Izzy swab a mountain chicken

Once the transmitters completely fail and we can no longer radio track, having the forestry guys out with us in the forest with their keen eyes, ears and catching skills will make continuing to monitor the released mountain chickens effective and sustainable.

Isabel Jones

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