Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mountain Chicken Day

Carnival "costume" King Crapaud overlooks Mountain Chicken Day 2014 
Mountain Chicken Day was last weekend, stretching into a two-day event on Sept 12th and 13th. The events took place at the Information Centre in the Botanic Gardens. Our goal was mainly to achieve as much public outreach as possible, and provide a day for people to come and have fun while learning about the Mountain Chicken Frog (Crapaud).

Nearly 200 people came through, mostly student groups, but also my friends from Gaiadid Gardens, and writer/blogger Gwen Whitford. Gwen is an admirable writer who I have been lucky enough to meet and chat with; she writes about living on the island here. Her writing was one of the first ways I started learning about life in Dominica!

We had coloring pages, word searches, informative videos, a station to practice “how to be a frog scientist” and a treasure hunt. The frog scientist station was my favorite. We had plush frogs as our test subjects, and taught the kids how to swab, measure, and weigh the frogs. The kids took to it readily. The hardest part was getting on the latex gloves! (We wore gloves to demonstrate how we have to protect the frogs from exposure to the fungal disease Chytrid that decimated the population.)

Despite the heat, the events were really fun! Most people who came were too young to have seen the frog population in its prime, but many adults came in with questions about what had happened to this once-so-familiar frog. Several visitors were disappointed that we couldn’t show them the live frogs up at the Captive Breeding Facility, but seemed pacified when we explained that it’s currently breeding season and it would simply be too stressful to have people coming in and out of the pens during the event, as well as the potential risks of Chytrid exposure.

Another cool aspect of the Mountain Chicken Day events was the showcasing of local poet Delroy Nesta Williams’ poem “The Crapaud Story.” Watch it below! 

You can check out Delroy’s other writing at his blog: And Then There Was Nesta.

These are the kinds of intersections I’m really looking for with my fellowship, and it’s been so fun to see the ways that conservation, writing, and learning come together. Yay!

Learn more about the partner efforts to protect the Mountain Chicken Frog in Montserrat here:

All the froggy love,

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