1. ITV Report

Endangered frogs from Jersey Zoo returned to native Montserrat

A team attempted environmental manipulation techniques to protect the frogs against a deadly fungus. Credit: ITV Channel TV

A group of endangered frogs at Jersey Zoo has been returned to their native home of Montserrat after a world first attempt at saving the species.

27 captive-bred mountain chicken frogs will return to the Caribbean island after a team attempted environmental manipulation techniques to protect them against a deadly fungus.

The microscopic pathogen Chytrid is believed to have wiped out more than 500 species worldwide and has driven the chicken frogs to the brink of extinction. The frogs have not been recorded in Montserrat for more than two years.

The Mountain Chicken Frog Recovery Programme, which includes Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, developed a semi-wild enclosure which included artificially heated areas to kill the fungus. The 'safe haven' also featured solar powered ponds which regulate their own temperature.

Dr Mike Hudson, who has led the project, says the implications for conservation going forward could be huge.

Currently, there is no known method for eradicating chytrid from the wild. We have had to think outside the box and come up with a mechanism for enabling frogs to survive alongside the fungus in their natural environment.

In this world first attempt at using environmental manipulation to mitigate the disease in the wild, we are hoping to not only make steps towards saving the incredibly threatened mountain chicken frog, but also to provide a model system that can inspire conservation action for hundreds of other species affected by the disease globally.

– Dr Mike Hudson, Mountain Chicken Frog Recovery Programme

The frogs are now being closely monitored and tested for signs of the fungus and experts are tracking the pathogen to see how it responds to the semi-controlled environment.