Pity the poor Mountain Chicken frog. As if being eaten to extinction on several Caribbean islands by both humans and introduced mongooses is not bad enough, it then had its last stronghold on a volcano in Montserrat blow up and finally the survivors were hit with chytridiomycosis. A frantic effort was initiated by DWCT on Jersey – if you are at all interested in any conservation work check out the Dodo blog on their site – and a few European zoos now hold and breed Leptodactylus fallax. With a wild population on the last two islands where it lives (Dominica and Montserrat) having a combined population of under 8,000 (probably much less) this species is in dire need of help.
The other species we are currently breeding in the Amphipod, although in somewhat smaller numbers, is the Lemur Leaf Frog Hylomantis lemur. Originating from Costa Rica and Panama, this tiny (3cm) tree frog has undergone massive declines in recent years, almost certainly due to chytridiomycosis, although it is apparently slightly more resistant than some other species. It was assessed as Critically Endangered in 2008.
A recent piece of research into which animals visitors to zoos pay most attention to rated amphibians as next after mammals (especially primates) in popularity. Just over a year ago, Bristol opened its ‘Amphipod’ – a climate controlled timber exhibit with two modest sized rooms for breeding endangered amphibians. Most people reading this blog will be aware of the global amphibian crisis caused by chytrid fungus, so I will not repeat that. I would like to talk instead about the various amphibians we have at Bristol and their current situation in the wild.
A new species that arrived at Bristol earlier this year is a pair of Malayan Black Hornbills, Anthracoceros malayanus. One of 54 recognised species of hornbill (plus the closely related Ground Hornbills of Africa) they originate from South East Asia, which is a center of diversity for the Bucerotiformes. Among the close relatives of hornbills are the hoopoes, kingfishers, rollers, and woodpeckers. Most of these were originally grouped together in the Coraciiformes, but these have now been split into separate orders.