The main outputs of James’ research are to 1) map the distribution of four species of sooglossid frogs on Mahé Island and Silhouette Island, 2) assess the relative abundance of each sooglosid frog species in the Intermediate Forest type, 3) set up a long-term program for monitoring the sooglossid frogs’ population trends over time, 4) develop a survival blueprint for sooglossid frogs in Seychelles and 5) develop communication materials for the general public and carry out outreach work.
We went to visit one of James’s EDGE Fellowship project sites in the hills of central Mahé. The site is within the National Park and was a steep climb from the road. It was beautiful lush green forest made all the more lush by the falling tropical rain! It was like being under a warm shower and I gave up all attempts at wearing my waterproof jacket as I got too hot! Quite strange being in warm torrential rain and not feeling cold at all!
With a lot of effort, and no success on mine and Olivia’s behalf I have to add, we successfully located all 3 EDGE sooglossid frog species (Sechellophryne gardineri, Sooglossus thomasseti, Sooglossus sechellensis) found on Mahé. James’s fourth species, the palm frog (Sechellophryne pipilodryas), is only found on Silhouette island.
These are all endemic to the Seychelles and one species, Sechellophryne gardineri, is one of the smallest frogs in the world! So you can imagine the reaction when we eventually found one!
The area is visited by tourists and locals but there does not appear to be any direct impact on the frogs that has been found.
The main concern for the future of these frogs is the arrival of chytrid fungus. The frogs are restricted by altitude and the arrival of chytrid has the potential to be devastating to the species. EDGE Project Officer Rachel Bristol has been discussing this with ZSL’s herpetologist and Reptile Team Leader, Ben Tapley. She is keen to standardise protocol and provide training for the government and NGO’s.
James is keen to work with the Natural History Museum in the capital Victoria on some educational activities to deliver to schools and families. We talked through some great ideas and I can’t wait to see how he gets on!
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