On Dominica mountain chickeDominicans are an important part of local culture, as well as once being the national dish, they also feature on the Dominican coat of arms and are widely referred to in songs and poems.  The conservation of the mountain chicken is viewed by local government as vitally important for Dominica as this ‘frog’ is part of the natural heritage.

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd or chytrid) struck Dominica in 2002 and led to a population reduction of over 80% in just 18 months. The rapid decline in this species led to it being listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN redlist; (i.e. facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild”); it became clear that drastic and urgent action was required to prevent the species becoming extinct on the island.

The population crash was so severe that it was feared the Dominican population would possibly be extinct by late 2000’s. However, more recent surveys conducted since 2011 have confirmed the population is still surviving and the presence of juveniles indicates successful breeding.

The lab on Dominica
The lab on Dominica

A captive breeding facility was established on Dominica through a 2005 Darwin Initiative grant and whilst no successful breeding has yet occurred within the facility, it continues to maintain five individuals.   Because mountain chickens need a lot of live food, the team has had to learn how to build up breeding stocks of native insects, as importing non-native species would risk introducing them to the wild.