Land Management and hunting of the now endangered Mountain Chicken or Crapaud are said to be a major concern of officials in their battle to save the the species.
Luke Harding of the Zoological Society of London, in his presentation on the occasion of the first ever Mountain Chicken Day on Friday, explained that there must be a collaborative effort by all Dominicans to preserve the amphibian.
He said there is a “creep up” in the frog’s population but hunting is a problem. “Over hunting was a problem for the Mountain Chicken and it still remains an issue,” he said. “There are reports of liberal hunting coming back in.”
He stated further that the perception of the Mountain Chicken as a ‘food item’ remains a big threat. “And even now that the population is so low,” he noted. “We still hear rumors, we still have people who see the Mountain Chicken as nothing but food.”
Another problem being faced, according to Harding, is poor land ownership. He noted that many land owners are using pesticides to combat a rise in slug population but it also affects the survival of the Crapaud.
“They may kill the slugs but the biggest problem is they also kill the frogs,” Harding pointed out. “It is a challenge for us because we don’t and can’t really enforce how people manage their land…”
Currently there is an ongoing drive to save the Crapaud which for decades was considered a delicacy and was sought after and savored for its chicken-like flavor.
It was considered Dominica’s unofficial national dish, forms part of the islands Coat-of-Arms and is used as a logo by several very important Dominican institutions, like the National Bank of Dominica.
But disaster struck in 2002 when Dominica experienced the first rapid decline of the amphibian’s population due to arrival on the island, of a deadly fungal disease called the Amphibian Chytrid.
This disease wiped out at least 80 percent of the population within 18 months.
Presently, 11 Crapauds are being housed at the Dominican Mountain Chicken Project breeding facility at the Botanical Gardens.