Researchers from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Natural History Museum, London, Nature Heritage, Jersey, and Conservation International have discovered and identified a new species called Durrell’s vontsira.
The small, mongoose-like carnivore from Madagascar was first spotted swimming in the Lac Alaotra marshes by Durrell scientists in 2004. After examining the new find and comparing blood and tissue samples to that of its closest relative, the brown-tailed vontsira, Natural History Museum zoologists noted differences in skull, teeth, and paws. Durrell’s vontsira is specially adapted to an aquatic lifestyle. As the newly discovered vontsira species only inhabits Lac Alaotra, it is especially important to protect those wetlands, which are currently threatened by silting and pollution.
Fifty mountain chicken frogs, rare amphibians native to the Caribbean islands of Dominica and Montserrat, have been airlifted to three European zoos when news spread that the mountain chicken frog population was succumbing to a deadly fungal disease called chytridiomycosis. The frogs are now housed in captive breeding units at the London Zoological Society, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey, and the Parken Zoo in Sweden.
Although they are called mountain chicken frogs, the large frogs actually live in the lowlands. Before their population was decimated by disease, they were eaten by locals; their flesh tastes similar to chicken.