Virgin Atlantic Cargo flies mountain chicken frogs to Montserrat to support conservation programme  

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The UK, November 19, 2014 (STAT):-Virgin Atlantic Cargo has given its support to a conservation project led by the governments of Montserrat and Dominica and zoological experts in the UK, Jersey and Sweden to save the critically-endangered mountain chicken frog, one of the largest frogs in the world.

Working closely with JCS Livestock, a division of James Cargo Services Ltd, the airline carried 57 frogs bred at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey and ZSL London Zoo as part of a conservation project on its scheduled flight to Antigua. For the final leg of their journey, the frogs boarded a charter flight to Montserrat.

All of the frogs arrived ‘home’ safely in Montserrat, where they were placed in a temporary holding facility to be rehydrated and rested for several days before being taken into the forest and released into the wild. At the release site special tents filled with leaf litter were used as release areas for the frogs, enabling them to leave when they were ready. All of the frogs are radio tagged and will be closely monitored for six weeks after their release by the programme’s field team.

John Lloyd, Director of Cargo at Virgin Atlantic, said: “Virgin  is passionate about conservation. This is the latest project the airline has been able to support and we hope it will lead to a sustainable recovery of the mountain chicken frog in its natural habitat.”

The mountain chicken frog is the largest of all living Leptodactylus species. It can reach a head and body length of over 20cms, weigh over 900g and live for up to 12 years. However, on their native island home of Montserrat and Dominica, the frogs are on the brink of extinction as a result of habitat loss due to the volcano in Monserrat and the fungal disease Chytridiomycosis on both islands, which has resulted in a mortality rate of over 90%.

The Mountain Chicken Frog Recovery Program is a partnership between Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Zoological Society of London, North of England Zoological Society Chester Zoo, Parken Zoo in Sweden and the Governments of Montserrat and Dominica. The frogs are classified as critically endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species and this project is part of a global study to fight the chytrid fungus disease.

In support of a separate conservation project in cooperation with JCS Livestock & the Government of Anguilla, Virgin Atlantic Cargo has also flown 9 endangered Anguillan Racer Snakes from Antigua to London Gatwick. The snakes are part of a breeding programme being coordinated by Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

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