The beginning of June brought us a couple of welcome visitors from Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the leading project partner along with the Department of Environment. Mr Paul Masterton is the Chief Executive Director of Durrell and Mrs Tricia Kreitman, a Trustee of Durrell who serves on the board of Governors. Tricia is also a Trustee of the Balcome Trust, which has a history of investment in Durrell projects, including the Mountain Chicken Project. Both were conducting a tour of the various Durrell projects run around the Caribbean with the aim to witness and experience the work being carried out and to meet project staff and partners and supporters.
Paul and Tricia had a jam packed itinerary for the three days they were with us on island. They attended various very positive meetings with the Director of Environment and Forestry Staff, the Minister and Permanent Secretary of Agriculture and the new Governor of Montserrat, HE Adrian Davis where the profile of the project was raised and important issues addressed.
Apart from meetings, Paul and Tricia also got chance to join the search for mountain chickens, at night in the forest, giving them a firsthand experience at what fieldwork is all about. We found several live mountain chickens and, unfortunately, one dead one. The dead frog was fresh enough for us to carry home and conduct a post-mortem examination.The samples we take from these examinations will allow us to carry out tests in the labs back home to try and determine cause of death, of course with an emphasis of looking at chytrid infection. Although sad news, it was good to be able to give our visitors the full experience of what we deal with in the field.
Paul then continued with his experiences of Montserrat by joining us on a survey for surviving mountain chickens in Fairy Walk. We were rewarded by our regular calling male PIT5621 who was looking extremely healthy. The field staff here were very impressed as Paul made the one hour hike into the field site up and down the mountainous terrain of the Montserrat Centre Hills with hardly breaking a sweat. It just shows the dedication of the Durrell staff at all levels to the projects Durrell are involved with. Paul and Tricia, it was a pleasure having you and please come and visit us again soon!
– Sarah-Louise Smith (Project Coordinator)