Jersey zoo saves two species on Montserrat

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The Independent US
Montserrat's rare creatures, some found nowhere else in the world, are more likely to become extinct because of new volcanic eruptions on the tiny Caribbean island.

Montserrat's rare creatures, some found nowhere else in the world, are more likely to become extinct because of new volcanic eruptions on the tiny Caribbean island.

Only 5,000 people remain on the island, a UK dependency. Most of the population was evacuated to neighbouring islands, America and Britain after the Soufriere Hills volcano began its 1995-97 eruption. But wildlife was not so fortunate – until two of the most endangered species were thrown a lifeline by an Ark-style operation organised at Jersey zoo in the Channel Islands.

One is the Montserrat oriole Icterus oberi, the official symbol of the 39-square-mile island. As few as 300 pairs may remain on the island, its only natural habitat, which is experiencing new volcanic blasts.

The other is the "mountain chicken" – not a bird but a massive frog, Leptodactylus fallax. As well as suffering from eruptions, it is being pushed closer to the brink by islanders who eat it – hence its local name.

Eight of the thrush-sized orioles and nine frogs have been evacuated to Jersey zoowhere they have bred in captivity for the first time. The orioles' numbers have risen to 14 and 120 frogs have been produced, viewed as a bigger "scientific breakthrough" because they breed in burrows and little was known of their requirements.

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