I have to admit that in my everyday life I am not all that adventurous. Sometimes I get on a Tube train just as the doors are shutting, but that's about as hard core as I get. In Montserrat the forest trekking I had to do was pretty tame, yet in my head I felt like I was like Bear Grylls. Little did I know what the ZSL team had in store for me here in Dominica.
In filming the work ZSL are doing for the Mountain Chicken Frog Project here in Dominica I am following around Alex, ZSL's Conservation Volunteer over here and Machel, the Amphibian Technician for the Forestry department. They've been showing me the different tasks they undertake, from running the breeding facility to community outreach projects to scientific field surveys of the mountain chicken frog population.
It was great to see the work going on at the breeding facility and as the breeding season is upon us there is a lot of hope here that they may see their first mountain chickens born here this year, so fingers crossed! However, it was the scientific field surveys that I was particularly looking forward to as it was a chance to see some wild mountain chicken frogs in their natural habitat on the island. The work currently being conducted is the biggest field survey in around seven years, looking into the status of the chytrid fungus on the island amongst its amphibian species. I had imagined this might involve some nice strolls through a forest counting frogs. I couldn't have been more wrong.
It also made me realise what an amazing job the ZSL team are doing out here. Whilst I battled simply to stay on the slope, Machel was able to spot a frog, go after it and capture it in a matter of moments. The team then positioned themselves on this precarious terrain to swab the frog and take its measurements, the data from which will go towards a study being conducted back at ZSL's Institute of Zoology in London. The frog we found on that occasion turned out to be a brand new one that had never been caught before, so the teamed tagged it and released it to bound back up the hill. By the time we finished that night I was exhausted and bruised, but for the team it was just another normal night in the field.
It was fascinating to experience the different habitats that the mountain chicken frog is able to survive in and it gave me a new respect for the species. On one evening I was given the opportunity to hold one of the frogs they had caught before we released it again. Looking at the little guy in my hand I found myself really hoping that all the work going into studying and combating the chytrid fungus and its effects on these awesome frogs pays off, because it really would be awful to lose this Lara Croft of the frog world from the island forever.
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Every month one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the month.
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Join the ZSL Discovery and Learning team as they venture out of the zoo and in to the wild.
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's elephant keepers give an insight into the daily goings on in the elephant barn.
Read about conservation of tigers in Asia.
One man is boldly going where no other ZSL videographer has gone before - the land of Mountain Chicken Frogs.
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From the field, to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.
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Updates from penguin conservation expeditions to Antarctica
Amur leopard conservation blog
Meet ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's latest (and leggiest) arrival, a baby giraffe!
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The Chagos marine reserve, designated in 2010 and currently the world’s largest no take marine reserve, is a sought-after spot for marine research.
Follow ZSL’s amphibian experts in their quest to find out why 41% of the world’s amphibians are threatened and what can be done to stop more species becoming extinct.
Follow ZSL conservationists studying desert baboons in Namibia.